If you were to guess which country on earth had the highest agriculture exports, you’d probably pick the United States, and you’d be right. But if you were to pick second place? Would it be Canada, with its vast land area? China, with their bustling export business? It would have to be a big country, wouldn’t it? Known for cutting edge technology?
Yes. Tiny little Netherlands is the second biggest exporter of agricultural products every year, to the tune of $100 billion. That’s not just tulips. (Though the history of tulip exports may have led to why The Netherlands has such a thriving export business.)
The secret is in the architecture. The country contains huge, massive greenhouses, some of which individually are more than 175 acres. The landscape of southern Holland is dominated by greenhouses. In fact, the country boasts 36 square miles of greenhouses, an area that’s more than half the size of Manhattan.
The Westland region, the “greenhouse capital of the Netherlands” was described by National Geographic as “banks of what appear to be gargantuan mirrors stretch[ed] across the countryside, glinting when the sun shines and glowing with eerie interior light when night falls.”
Using hydroponics and geothermal energy, it takes surprisingly few resources to produce their bounty. Just 1.1 gallons of waters generates a pound of tomatoes, compared to the global average of 25.6 gallons.
The greenhouses have a controlled environment than manages temperature, humidity, and little to no contamination or pesticides.