Land Use: Agriculture and Use of Wood
The history of the green Delta is the litany of the production of food, feed and fuel as the bare necessities of life. In this chapter the history of agriculture and the use of wood and timber will be treated. In contrast with the lack of documented information on the history of the natural environment (the subject of this book), a tremendous amount of information is written about applied sciences, such as agriculture and forestry. In 1918 a Dutch Agricultural University was erected in Wageningen, and many other schools and courses on the practice of husbandry are available in the Delta. The Society for the History of Agriculture produces reprints of historic documents on agriculture (e.g. Roessingh and Schaars, 1996), and regularly Ph.D. theses appear on detailed subjects (e.g. Van Den Bergh, 2004). The prime publication of Slicher van Bath (1960) on the history of agriculture in Western Europe offers little specific information on the Delta. Bieleman’s (1992) handbook on the history of Dutch agriculture is a valuable source of information, however. The publication of books on the past and future of husbandry continues (e.g. Hendrikx, 1999; Reijnders, 2002), and much agricultural history is also wrapped up in historic geography and cultural history (e.g. Haartsen et al., 1989; Barends et al., 1995). Nowadays specialised publishers have prepared for the ‘retro-trend’ and bring nicely illustrated regional studies on the (agricultural) history of the Dutch landscape to the market (e.g. Matrijs publishers in Utrecht and Waanders publishers in Zwolle – ‘History of the farmers’ life’). Which image should we foster of the farmer of the past centuries, the romantic one, the pastoral worker surrounded by his cattle and poultry (Fig. 7.1) or the laborious, scanty one, the farmer who had to cope with continuous flooding of his fields (Fig. 7.2)?
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