"Tell us, farmer Spijkerman..."

What does being a good farmer mean to you?
For us it means letting our cows produce milk naturally. We do this by ensuring that our cattle mainly eat herb-rich grass. Of course, we’re really attached to our grasslands because of their vital role in allowing us to be good farmers and produce good milk. We also take really good care of our cattle, so they can live as long as possible.

In what ways do you practice sustainable farming? And what motivates you to do so?
On our farm we have a wide variety of cattle breeds. Which means we’ve got cows of all different colours. It’s our belief that this interbreeding, just as in mixed-breed dogs, helps our animals to have a longer lifespan. And we get to enjoy all the different colours and characters in the herd. By interbreeding we benefit from all the positive characteristics of all the different breeds.

Why is your way of farming the right one for you?
We try to make production on our farm as sustainable as possible. We do this by feeding our cattle as much home-grown grass as possible. 90% of what our cows eat comes from our own land. We also manage a small area of woodland, two frog ponds, a small lake, ditches and other wild areas. We also use a lot of native wild plants in our pastures, such as clover, dandelion, common chicory and ribwort plantain. This increases the biodiversity of our farm.

What else does being a farmer mean to you personally?
We open our farm up to visitors. Every school week 2 classes from The Hague visit our farm so they can see how we work. More than 3,000 children a year visit our farm. And we often have visits from interested groups of farmers from other countries. In addition to this our farm has been organic for the last 25 years and our entire farm is free from the use of antibiotics. The wide variety of wild plants in our pastures adds to the health of both our livestock and our land, this means our cattle stay healthy.

Why did you choose to join the cooperative?
Rouveen Kaasspecialiteiten knows how to use our milk to make an excellent product: delicious cheese. Rouveen is quite close to our farm and pays us a fair price for our milk. We’re also really happy with the room the cooperative gives us to take part in certain milk initiatives which make our way of farming more sustainable and add value to our milk. We are also strong believers in the added value of being part of a cooperative. There is strength in numbers!

Last but not least: what’s your favourite cheese?

Our favourite is the Bastiaansen blue cheese. It’s delicious on crackers or crunchy bread, but also in salad or as part of a cheeseboard. It’s a blue cheese with a bit of a kick and that makes it really tasty!