During a cycling trip last week I stumbled upon a ‘milk-o-mat’. At a farm called Ons Verlangen in the North of Amsterdam a special vending machine dispenses fresh milk that comes straight from the cows. For only €0.20 a cup of cold milk can be tapped from the machine that is especially made for this purpose and opened till 10 in the evening.
At this Dutch farm the two best elements of the Dutch landscape — cows and cycling — are combined. On good weather days loads of folks from Amsterdam go cycling in this landscape to enjoy the meadows, cows and cosy villages. In the whole area there are barely any services. Various farms jump into this gap and start to sell eco-ice-cream made from their own milk, drinks and fruits.
As making a living from agriculture becomes harder and harder on the Dutch country side, lots of farmers look for an additional income from recreation, healthcare or tourism. Also the growing amount of foodies and eco-hipsters in Amsterdam form an increasing source of income to these new-style farms. Besides the milk-o-mat, that shows to be the main attraction at this farm, also meat, eggs and ice-cream are sold to passers-by, which makes the farm a busy spot on days with high temperatures. Besides all these specialties the farm also runs a rabbit hotel, that takes good care of your rabbit when you’re on holiday.
People are invited to stroll around the farm and hug the animals when they like to. The farm is run by people that can’t work in normal conditions and that need special structure and routine during the day. This concept of care farming is popping up at several places within this region. Milk-o-mats are a wider spread phenomenon. In Slavic countries you can also find milk-o-mats in the streets of cities, supplying urban residents with fresh milk from the country side. Also in Germany the milk drive is a common phenomenon at farmer markets.