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Literally opening the barn doors and showing people around the dairy farm. That is the best way to show how we work to make dairy farming more sustainable. Our dairy farmers are happy and proud to tell people about their dairy farms.
Member dairy farmers Wilma and Bert Zonnenberg from Herpen
“Children remember a visit to a farm years later”
Wilma and Bert Zonnenberg have been Klasseboeren since 2009. In addition to running their dairy farm in Herpen, Brabant, they provide farm education to schoolchildren through the Klasseboeren Association. “We want children to understand where milk comes from and how a cow is put together. And what better place to show them than on the farm.
“We host about 15 times a year primary and secondary school students. In the beginning I was shocked how little most children know about animals and food. For example that cheese is made of milk and that a potato grows in the ground and an apple on a tree.”
Experiencing, smelling and tasting
The Zonnenberg family welcomes children in a shed that’s set up like a classroom. ‘We first explain briefly about the dairy farm and what we’re going to do. They’re then given dust jackets and boots and we visit the animals. Depending on age and education level, they’re given a tour with assignments to see whether they’ve understood the theory. They may help with milking and attaching the cluster units. Other jobs include cleaning the calving pen, feeding young livestock and scattering straw. For older children we alternate these kinds of tasks with theory about food or, for example, a lesson on insemination. But ‘experience’ comes first. You can explain to children what happens on a dairy farm, but they’re much more likely to retain that information if they can experience, smell and taste it. Children will still remember a visit to a farm years later!’