Fifteen Scottish Enterprise Rural Leaders and five Rural Youth Project delegates were the first to experience Rotterdam’s floating dairy in action on a recent urban/rural learning journey to the Netherlands.
As the first visitors to the farm, delegates tasted the success of innovation sampling one of the first batches of bottled milk with CEO Peter Van Wingerden.
The floating farm wasn’t the only tour to leave delegates swimming with ideas. An action packed schedule included visits to a carbon neutral chicken farm and PigMe, a business where pigs are farmed and lazed in fields, forests and meadows over 10 locations close to the consumer with dedicated caretakers.
Scottish dairy farmer, graduate of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme and Chair of the NFU Scotland Next Generation Colin Ferguson came away from the trip inspired with a new appreciation for Dutch innovation and collaboration in bridging the urban/rural divide.
“The floating day was one example of how innovation was not only adding value but also showing the value of food production. The project was very much a proof of concept rather than a wholly commercial enterprise but it was clear that it had created positive discussion and excitement for dairy farming within the city. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine something similar in any of our cities within the UK.”
Colin added “It’s important that farmers see first-hand how innovation can transform and challenge traditional farming practices and engage urban consumers in a meaningful and transparent way. For example, one of the farms we visited Kipster, has a 24hr viewing room of their chickens which is a new way of thinking to educate the public. The consumer will always purchase cheap food, it is our responsibility as farmers to share our stories and add the value to our supply chain.”
The urban/rural learning journey was a collaboration between Scottish Enterprise, Rural Youth Project, Jane Craigie Marketing, Rural Youth Project vlogger and tour guide Dirk-Jan Kloet with an aim to challenge delegates to “think different” on the urban/rural divide.
Julian Pace Head of Rural at Scottish Enterprise said that the collaboration between Scottish Enterprise and the Rural Youth Project was a real opportunity to learn about Dutch innovation and, more importantly, from each other.
“An important part of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme is the chance to network with other like-minded people, including the five Rural Youth Project delegates on this trip offered a new perspective and a refreshing insight into how they see their communities.
“The Rural Youth Project survey found that only 13% of young people felt they had a say in their community and I believe the relationships formed on this trip will help these future leaders find their voice with mentoring support from some of the Rural Leadership alumni”, said Julian.
Co-convener of the trip, Jane Craigie co-director and founder of the Rural Youth Project, said often regional issues are seen as a purely geographical problem, but through communication and innovation we have an opportunity to connect with our city counterparts.
“The Dutch have a real aptitude for harnessing the power of storytelling to connect with consumers and they’re constantly pushing boundaries when it comes to agriculture and business. So many fundamentals of what the Dutch are doing are within reach of young people looking to build business or enterprise in rural communities.
“Rotterdam’s floating dairy is just one example of how Dutch innovation is challenging contemporary ideals. Delegates had the opportunity to experiences multiple business who “think different” and harness their narrative to engage consumers with PigMe a great example of location agnostic business”, said Jane.
Co-owner Josse Haarhuis of PigMe gave delegates a tour of one of the location and explained how he used the power of their story and social media to sell to high-end restaurants and consumers.