Peter Gille is a farmer, but also an entrepreneur in childcare, operator of a catering facility, camping owner and manager of a conference and wedding venue. His farm in Bergschenhoek no longer only lives from the cows; Farmers’ incomes are under too much pressure for that, he says.
Gille is not the only farmer who has decided on something special. In a survey by the Wageningen University (WUR) and the Agrio publishing house, half of the 1200 participating farmers stated that they pursued other activities besides cattle breeding or arable farming. In the 1990s that was less than a quarter. In the future, only one in three farmers will concentrate exclusively on agriculture.
Of the farmers surveyed, 17 percent also practice nature conservation, a further 17 percent operate a wind or solar park. Others have plunged into trailer stalls, catering facilities, and day trips, including climbing stalls and monkey cages. The foster farm and the combination with childcare are also popular: 7 percent of the farmers surveyed are doing this now.
Robust return leg
Gille, who is also chairman of the Agrarian Childcare Association with 56 affiliated companies, founded it ten years ago. Around 60 small children are now in the day-care center and another 40 in after-school care. Forty people work on Het Lansingerland Farm, most of them in emergency shelters.
“It’s a nice second leg of your business,” he says. “It offers a lot more income security.” According to him, his bank hardly invests any money in traditional animal husbandry, but activities like animal shelters are fully funded. “If you want to move forward as an entrepreneur, you have to look further. We are now making good income from it.”