Agroecology from A to Z

Adventures in Agroecology and Food Systems


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Working windmills in the Dutch food system

Note: Today is the one year birthday of this blog. We’re almost at 5,000 views! A huge thanks to all of the readers out there who share an interest in sustainable food systems. In celebration, I’m starting a series of posts on the European food system documenting my adventures so far living in Wageningen, The Netherlands and working as a visiting postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University.

This windmill, Molen de Vlijt, holds a special place in my heart, because it is the first windmill I’ve ever seen. I stumbled across it while taking a walk in my new town, Wageningen, this past winter. Built in 1879, the mill has survived lightning strikes, shelling in WWII and decades of neglect before being lovingly restored in 1979. This year happens to be the city of Wageningen’s 750th anniversary. I can’t wait for the special molenmarkt (mill market) this fall celebrating 750 years of milling for bread making.

Molen de Vlijt or "Mill of Diligence"

Molen de Vlijt or “Mill of Diligence”

750 years of milling

750 years of milling

The mill grinds regional organic grains and is open to the public on Saturdays. Being inside the mill while it’s running is almost like a steam punk space ship getting ready for lift off. The feeling of kinetic energy and the tremendous noise of the moving parts as the wind speeds up and slows down is very exciting.  I already knew I had a strong interest in traditional and modern food processing and preservation. I’ve toured Camas Country Mill in Oregon, and the historic Enfield Falls Mill in New York, but my experiences touring this mill have sparked a special interest in traditional wind technologies in the food system. Apparently I’m not alone, because there is an International Molinological Society that I just may have to investigate further. In this video, I take you inside the mill while it’s running from the ground floor to the fourth level. Here is a diagram of the inner workings of the mill as a guide.

Mill diagram from www.molendevlijt.nl

Mill diagram from http://www.molendevlijt.nl

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

Is it any wonder the Dutch are leaders in modern wind technology? Neeltje Jans, Zeeland province

Is it any wonder the Dutch are leaders in modern wind technology? Neeltje Jans, Zeeland province. And yes that is my Dad trying to push this wind turbine over into the North Sea!