Pearl of De Langstraat: De Annahoeve

| Vittoria Roitero

On a Wednesday afternoon in March, I visit De Annahoeve in De Moer. A dairy farm near the Efteling and on the edge of the Huis ter Heide nature reserve. I have regularly seen nice messages from and about De Annahoeve passing by on social media and am really looking forward to my trip to this farm.

The experience begins on my way there. Boerderij De Annahoeve Although only two kilometers as the crow flies from Efteling, to get there you drive through a typical Dutch polder landscape. The weather is not great today, so fortunately I am driving this time, but I definitely recommend a bike ride or a walk towards the farm.

From afar I see a flag flying. A local tourist information point has recently been established at De Annahoeve, which cannot be overlooked because of this flag. Visitors to the farm store can get tourist inspiration here and take away free flyers and cycling or hiking routes. Handy, because there are several campsites in the vicinity of De Annahoeve and the area is home to a lot of cycling and hiking.

Once parked in the yard, I am greeted by farm dog Nora. Ingrid Hazenberg, with whom I have an appointment, approaches me. She immediately starts talking enthusiastically about the elementary school class she visited this morning. Ingrid thinks it's important to show young people where dairy comes from. "There are many people who take their glass of milk or cheese sandwich for granted, but have never seen a cow up close themselves" she tells me.

When Ingrid asks if I also want to take a look at the stables, of course I can't refuse. Dog Nora happily hops ahead of us, the big stable door opens and a pair of cute, curious little eyes immediately catches my attention. "That calf is about three weeks old now" Ingrid tells me when she sees my endearing look. Then Paul, Ingrid's husband, approaches us. He proudly tells us about his farm. That the calves grow into dairy cows in two years and that they have a nice life at De Annahoeve. "Our cows go outside for 200 days a year while the norm in the Netherlands is 120 days. Per day they can graze for as much as eight hours, two hours longer than the norm." It doesn't take any difficult arithmetic to figure out that the "milkmaids" at De Annahoeve roam outside about twice as much as the rules require. This benefits both cow welfare and milk quality.

I ask how much time they spend daily milking. "The robots do that these days," Ingrid explains, pointing to two 'gates'. "The cows wear a chip. They walk of their own accord to the robots where the chip is read. If the cow in question has been milked too recently, the gate opens again, if not, the cow is milked." As if she heard us, a cow walks toward the robot. The gate opens and the robot decides she can be milked. Ingrid takes me to see what that looks like behind the robot. The udder is disinfected and a laser is used to attach the teats. Within minutes, the cow is over 15 liters lighter, the gate opens again and the cow can go back to her friends. Great to see, fully automatic and a win-win for both man and animal!

We walk toward the farm store and first pass the vending machines. A former barn houses large vending machines full of dairy, meat and other local produce. "We work together with other 'Duinboeren' and sell each other's products. This allows us to offer a wide range of regional products." Thanks to the vending machines, customers can also buy various (unrefrigerated, chilled and frozen) products outside the store's opening hours. Handy!


Once we arrive at the farm store, Ingrid apologizes, "We are closed right now so a lot is empty, tomorrow it will be freshly replenished" but I feast my eyes and see plenty of delicious products; meat, dairy, honey, specialty beers, tomato sauce, jams and even body lotion and hand cream. While shopping, you look through a window into the barn. So nice, this is really a must visit when you are in the Kaatsheuvel area!

Did you know.

At De Annahoeve the environment is respected? They are "On the way to Planetproof" certified and give pasture back to nature by creating wooded banks and hedges.

The farm is 100 years old? 'Grandpa Paul' cycled from Dorst 100 years ago to build the farm. Ingrid and Paul are already the third generation to operate the farm.

De Annahoeve from April 2023 will sell brand new eggs from (its own) free-range chickens?

There will be hives installed by a beekeeper in the spring of 2023 for your own honey?

The vending machines are available every day from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm?

Want to know more? Click here for much more information on De Annahoeve.

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There is plenty to see and experience in De Langstraat. Read about it in our inspiration magazine.

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