Two Dutch farmers in New York

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Adrian Ooms and Jean-Paul Courtens are Dutch farmers who left home as young men to start a new life in America. By coincidence, they both ended up in Kinderhook, New York -a place where Dutch farmers were already tilling the soil 400 years ago. 


These days Ooms and Courtens are known as exemplary farmers, each in their own specialist field. Dairy farmer Adrian Ooms (pictured in lead photo), born and raised in Schiedam near Rotterdam, has kept his farm small, with about 450 milk cows. This is uncommon in the USA, where most milk is produced on very large dairies. But in a recent trend to reintroduce smaller-scale agriculture in New York state, the Ooms Dairy Farm is often upheld as a model. One of Adrian's sons has even been appointed Vice President of the powerful New York State Farm Bureau, the most important agricultural body in the state.

On nearby Roxbury Farm, run by Jean-Paul Courtens, we find a whole different type of agriculture. Mr Courtens, originally from Amsterdam, sells his biodynamic produce by means of Community Supported Agriculture. In other words, the customer pays an annual sum for a weekly delivery of organically-grown fruit and vegetables. But included in the fee is the right to vote on what crops should be grown on the farm - and the customers can come help out during the harvest too. That's easier said than done, since most of the customers live in Manhattan: four hours by car from this beautiful farm in the Hudson Valley.