More farmers generate income from supplementary activities

Non-agricultural activities like agro-tourism, nature conservation and care provision are becoming increasingly popular among farmers and market gardeners. The number of care farms, for example, rose by 10 percent in 2009 relative to 2008.

Number of farms with supplementary activities

Number of farms with supplementary activities

Over 700 farms combine agricultural production and care

In 2009, there are more than 700 care farms in the Netherlands, 10 percent more than one year previously. The number of care-providing farms has nearly doubled since 2003, when there were 370 care farms. Farmers looking for new opportunities obviously anticipate the growing demand for tailor-made care. 

A growing number of farmers provide care to former alcohol and drug addicts, people with mental disabilities, elderly and people in need of care. Most of these people stay on care farms only during the day. Living on a care farm is relatively rare. Working on a care farm can also facilitate finding regular paid employment.


Nearly 2,250 farms offer recreational and tourist facilities, an increase by 4 percent compared to the preceding year. On 3 in every 100 farms, tourists can participate in a variety of activities. Supplementary activities range from providing overnight accommodation or camping site facilities to hiring out horse-drawn covered wagons, bicycles or canoes. Offering meals, snacks and drinks are also included in agro-tourism.

Agricultural products and storage facilities

Another option for farmers to supplement their incomes is direct selling and processing of agricultural produce. This year, 2,250 farmers are selling agricultural produce, but also processed agricultural produce, e.g. cheese, jam and flour directly to consumers. The number of farmers selling directly to consumers has increased by nearly 3 percent relative to a year ago. The number of farmers engaged in processing agricultural products has increased by 5 percent to 730. In addition, there are nearly 2,200 agricultural enterprises offering various kinds of storage facilities, an increase by more than 4 percent compared to 2008.

Marius Reitsma and Cor Pierik