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Century-old district once home to relocated city farmers

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HARDERWIJK – If one walks with an observing eye through well-preserved centuries-old Dutch cities, it will not be long before one spots buildings which look much like historic farmsteads in the rural areas of the country. In many cases, such traces may not be visible from main city roads and are obscured by other buildings. Kampen and Bolsward were among the last cities to lose their city farmsteads (1960s and 1970s) where livestock was brought in from the meadows for the winter through narrow alleyways and even down hallways in homes to their stalls in back. As forage and waste were taken in and out in the same manner, municipal councils were eager to phase the city farms out of town. The city of Harderwijk struggled with the same issue around 1900 when the so-called city farmers were encourage to resettle in the district called Het Nachthok. Now a century old and with no farms remaining, the district is the subject of redevelopment proposals. A resident group opposes the plans, pointing to Het Nachthok’s value as a cultural heritage district which, it argues, goes beyond just the value of bricks and mortar.