Below Sea Level Dutch City Boasts World's First Floating Dairy Farm

Jan 8, 2024

When Peter Van Wingerden saw first-hand how Hurricane Sandy cut food supply lines in New York in 2012, he began to think about how to apply the lessons to his native Netherlands. The Netherlands are a low-lying country always threatened by flooding. 

Wingerden and his wife, Minke, went to work creating the world’s first floating dairy farm. It took them seven years and it has been a success. Their team is building a second platform farm on Rotterdam’s Merwe harbor. That platform will be used to harvest eggs and vegetables. 

The Netherlands is one of the nations most threatened by a warming Earth. One fourth of the northern European country lies below sea level. Rising oceans could sink the entire nation in the future.  

Supporters say floating farms are an answer for cities trying to become more prepared for sea level rise. Rotterdam is more than 4 feet below sea level. The concept can also include office buildings and homes on water platforms. The platforms rise with the tides, so they’re not prone to flooding. That makes them less vulnerable to severe storms made worse by climate change that can destroy farmland. Also, they can provide food in big cities where farms often don’t exist.  

The 40 cows that live here are fed with water gathered from rain and desalinated seawater. And their fodder includes grass clippings from soccer fields that have been fertilized by their manure. They are also milked by robots. Their dairy products are sold at a store next to the farming platform.

“We call our cows upcycle ladies,” Minke van Wingerden told The Associated Press.    

Photo from Instagram courtesy of @floatingfarmnl.

Reflect: Why might it be important for communities to explore alternative ways of farming and living in areas affected by climate change and rising sea levels?

Question
Which quote from the story illustrates the use of a problem and solution text structure? (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. “Their dairy products are sold at a store next to the farming platform.”
b. “It took them seven years and it has been a success.”
c. “Supporters say floating farms are an answer for cities trying to become more prepared for sea level rise.”
d. “‘We call our cows upcycle ladies,’ Minke van Wingerden told The Associated Press.”
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