Lifestyle

Hidden gem: Traditional farming in the the Netherlands

Traditional Limburg-style homes are on show at Nonke Buusjke in the Netherlands.
Traditional Limburg-style homes are on show at Nonke Buusjke in the Netherlands. Liana Turner

A GROUP of men were working in a field of gold.

Just visible above the heavy heads of grain, they slashed at the foliage with hand scythes. Standing among species of 10,000-year-old grains was awe-inspiring. The stems shivered in the breeze and their rustling resembled the whisper of cane fields back in Australia. Even when on the other side of the world that sound of orderly vegetation, and the earthy smell of rain-drenched fields, felt like home. It was nearing harvest time.

There was plenty of wildlife, great and small, at Nonke Buusjke in the Netherlands.
There was plenty of wildlife, great and small, at Nonke Buusjke in the Netherlands. Liana Turner

Here, in Schinveldse Es, age-old species of grain are preserved and meticulously grown through methods that are centuries old. A worker showed us around the farm, his stories carefully translated by my relative, who lives nearby. Some of the species growing here are many thousands of years old, more or less genetically unchanged in that time.

In a far field are horses which, when the time is right, are used to plough the fields. A huddle of cows was also nearby, and I was told they were a Belgian breed. The fields of barley, rye and wheat were tall and heavy with a good yield.

We were in the far south of the Netherlands, just a few hours' train ride from the capital Amsterdam, near the town of Schinveld in the Limburg province. This part of the Netherlands is known as the "mountainous” region of the country, and by that they mean there are a few hills.

Even the cows give visitors a warm welcome and, right, traditional houses and tools on display.
Even the cows give visitors a warm welcome and, right, traditional houses and tools on display. Liana Turner

It is barely a stone's throw from Germany and Belgium, squeezed between the two borders. It may be a tiny country, but there is far more to the Netherlands than the famous cafe culture of Amsterdam.

The Dutch are renowned for their ability to tame nature, most notably through the use of canals and dykes to keep the nation - which sits below sea level - habitable.

But at least one group wants to keep this mastery of nature to its bare roots by using and showcasing centuries-old techniques and technologies. In winter, the region at the edge of the Schinveldse Forests becomes a wonderland of snow-covered fields. But at the height of summer, grain crops and flowers are everywhere.

When we arrived at Nonke Buusjke, it was raining, again, but that was to be expected in a country so green. Something of a tongue-twister, Nonke Buusjke is a traditionally built, well-preserved outdoor museum. Designed and built by Dutchman Thei Berkers, the museum offers insight into age-old farming practices.

Self-described as a place "quiet and thought-provoking”, it was a stark contrast to the bustling cities I was exploring days before. Traditional mud-walled buildings surround a quaint courtyard. Garden beds and old tools are scattered around. There's evidence of how life in the Limburg region looked in about 1900.

A traditional plow at Nonke Bussjke.
A traditional plow at Nonke Bussjke. Liana Turner

From the old milk-churners and hand-pumped fire extinguisher to the trove of tools, there's plenty to feast your eyes upon. You can feast your stomachs, too, and try out traditional tarts after exploring all the buildings have to offer. But it's what's hidden within the village that is most intriguing.

Beyond a gorgeous, meticulously kept garden and a huddle of beekeepers lie fields which have not withstood the blade of any contemporary machine.

Topics:  grains, heritage grains, netherlands, wholegrains



More counterfeit money does the rounds on Northern Rivers

Police dismayed to discover a fake $50 note

Cinema closed for two weeks

UPGRADES: Kyogle Community Cinema's projection system was upgrade to a digital system in 2013.

Don't count on taking kids to movies at this Northern Rivers town

Northern Rivers man falls victim to fraudster

A Casino man has received quite a shock

Local Partners

Mmmm .... Melon and meat - a winning combination

Get your rockmelon seeds with today's paper.

Make great bruschetta treat from fruits of today's FREE seeds

Top five in entertainment this week

ALT-ELECTRONIC: This weekend you get a chance to listen to Still Fighting, the new single by local band Tijuana Cartel.

Music and comedy with a splash of partying

Kim Kardashian West wants restraining order against prankster

She was attacked by Vitalii Sediuk for the second time in two years

Who's getting up on stage this week?

HITS: THE Eagles  Band is a tribute to Southern California's most famous musical group, The Eagles. One of the most successful bands of the 70s, The Eagles enjoyed massive worldwide success and conquered the world and even today, the concert DVD Hell Freezes Over is still the best selling DVD ever. Enjoy this tribute band at the Ballina RSL Club tomorrow Friday from 8pm. $54.90.

All the gigs for this busy entertainment week

Cinema closed for two weeks

UPGRADES: Kyogle Community Cinema's projection system was upgrade to a digital system in 2013.

Don't count on taking kids to movies at this Northern Rivers town

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

New $33 million development planned for Ballina Shire

The site of a proposed seniors living development at Skennars Head.

Plans include 211 homes, clubhouse and recreational facilities

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction