Nieuws - 28 april 2011

Droevendaal on a beautiful spring day

Spring descends in all its glory upon the Netherlands. Plants pop up out of the earth, flowers bloom and the sun shines. Nowhere is this more visible than at the student barracks in Droevendaal. What's it like to live in the blossoming nature?

For those who are not familiar with Droevendaal, it is a group of 'little houses' on the outskirts of Wageningen. The complex is set up in 1977 under an emergency housing scheme, but has since developed into a permanent settlement. There are 33 barracks, each with its own backyard. Rain water is being recycled for the toilets; washing machines and water are heated by solar energy. According to the Droevendaal website, each barrack has six human inhabitants and an average of 2.5 chickens and 1.37 cats. There is one turkey.
Thijs, seventh year Biology student, has been studying for his final year the entire day. He comes home just before 4 pm and starts gardening. 'Today, I'm going to plant my tomatoes which are still in the pots behind the window. But first, I have to fix this greenhouse. The other plants are doing well, because we planted them fairly early this year. Yesterday, we harvested a lot of rhubarb, so the plants look a bit small now. A pity that the grapes are not doing as well as those of our neighbours, who have enough to make wine.'
Last year, there were also bees in 'the field', the centre of Droevendaal. Unfortunately, the bee colonies did not survive the winter. However, there is the turkey Gobbles at present. Gobbles is enjoying itself in the shade in its shed. A pity that its owner is not around to say something about its character. The enormous turkey is not entirely popular. 'Some of us can't stand Gobbles at all because he's so noisy', says one of its neighbours. 'These people are hatching a plot against him. But I don't have any problems.'
Isolde, third year environmental sciences student,
has just sat for an organic chemistry examination. 'Four students signed up for the test, but I was the only one who showed up. They have therefore set 47 questions just for me.' She relaxes after the tedious assignments and plays with her cat Kali. 'I am crazy about my cat. Kali is the goddess of life and death; she was born op 11 September. When she arrived here, six appliances broke down. She's very special.'
With a hammock as background, fourth year agrotechnology student Woutine is seen studying under a tree. She is making a documentary for her final Bachelor's year. 'People know less and less about how food is produced. My documentary will show how farmers handle their crops.' Her own kitchen garden is doing well. 'The potatoes have sprouted, but the curly parsley hasn't taken root yet', she says. A big plant can be found in the centre of the little garden. 'The artichoke thistle. It will have big purple flowers, and it will grow to be enormous. But I don't think it's edible.'

Students of the University of Amsterdam made this documentary about Droevendaal: