STWWS travel reporter: People Making a Difference

As any of you who have been following my blog for a while will know, this weekend I am in Amsterdam as part of the See the World with SPAR travel reporter competition. The task for the weekend was to create a report on Dutch culture focusing on ‘Where People Make the Difference’. This is a vague topic. So I decided to do my report on something that I really think makes a real difference to people – food and the environment. Okay, okay, so it's a travel competition... and I've chosen a topic that not that many people may not be particularly ecstatic about. In fact, I had several doubts yesterday as to how nerdy this topic is. When people generally think of the Netherlands and particularly Amsterdam, I’m pretty sure that several more exciting topics come to mind. But the naughty side of Holland isn’t the only side to Holland. It’s actually one of the greenest countries in the world, and coming from a big industrial city in the UK, it was amazing to see all of the green spaces in such a major capital city – not to mention the endless trail of cyclists cutting down city emissions. So, convinced that this is the right track, I got to my work on my first See the World with SPAR travel report. I was in search of green spaces and people who contribute to that - making a difference. After consulting my Lonely Planet city guide to Amsterdam, I discovered a place that ticked all the boxes. I jumped on a tram and headed to the southern edge of the city, where I went on to spend a big part of my weekend in Amsterdamse Bos – which is absolutely unpronounceable to me for some reason. This is one of the biggest parks in the Netherlands, relatively easy to get to (a 20-minute tram journey away from Amsterdam Centraal Station) and has a lot going on. To my excitement, I finally rented a bike and rode around until I found the Goat farm (De geitenboerderij). A GOAT FARM. In the middle of Amsterdam? Yes. De geitenboerderij is a little eco haven in the middle of Amsterdam and far from the well-worn tourist paths in the centre of the city. And there was even a farmer's market on! The thing that really struck me about the goat farm that resonated with the STWWS task at hand was the people who owned and worked on these farmer's stalls dotted around the main building. From cute handmade souvenirs to a fresh fruit and veg market to a whole stall dedicated to nuts - the owners were happy and friendly and passionate about what they were doing. I interviewed a few of these people, who – apart from the camera-shy Yvonne and her organic Italian based market – were more than happy to talk about why what they are doing is important. This farm, and the beautiful park that it’s situated in, is not just a tourist attraction. The people who work here are passionate about what they do: bringing people of all ages together to recognise and appreciate where food comes from, and why this knowledge really does matter. If you’re just not into the whole eco-warrior thing though, Amsterdamse Bos is still an awesome place to visit when you’re in Amsterdam, providing a well-deserved break from the less environmentally conscious attractions of the city! And who doesn't like feeding baby animals, anyway?

STWWS travel reporter: People Making a Difference