He is proud to say his raspberries and strawberries are sold at major Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn. In addition his plant material can be found all over Europe. Soft fruits grower Thwan van Gennip is visibly proud of his product, just like his father Simon, from whom he took over the company in 1999. With his enthusiastic team of employees, he has upgraded the business to a leading provider of excellent starting material. The main site is located in Lierop, Brabant. ‘In the South of the country it is never too cold or too hot. This makes for the perfect climate for propagating plants.’
Soft fruits grower Thwan van Gennip
Before a punnet of soft fruit makes its way to the supermarket, it has completed a complex trajectory. Thwan van Gennip carefully manages every step. ‘It all starts with high-quality, basic propagating material. For strawberries alone, we have 37 hectares of tray fields, 60 hectares of waiting bed plants and 20 acres of A+ fields. Personally, above all, I prefer tray plants. I always make sure I’m there for planting. It is wonderful to see how the plants grow on after planting.’ Once the basis is sound, the production phase can begin. Here again, the company has a range of facilities: 10 hectares of tunnel greenhouses, nine hectares under glass and 15 hectares of strawberry gutters. In addition eight hectares of new construction will be build in the near future.
Add to this the 25 hectares of raspberries, four hectares of blackberries and 30 hectares of asparagus plants and there you have it: a hobby that got slightly out of hand, in Thwan van Gennip’s words. He loves to be involved in everything: growing, sales and personnel management. ‘It is difficult for me to delegate, because whatever the angle, I just want to deliver top quality. I expect the same from my suppliers, which is why the obvious choice ten years ago was BVB Substrates. They have never disappointed us. My contact Jan Simons knows my crops and my wishes. The company is big enough to always provide sufficient growing media.’
Custom-made growing media
Soft fruit flourishes on a balanced mixture of coconut and peat. ‘For blackberry, strawberry and raspberry plants alike, BVB Substrates supplies a custom-made mixture. Although the basis is always the same, they have meticulously calculated which supplements are needed per crop for perfect results. I benefit from that knowledge, as it gives my plants the best possible start. What’s also important, is that there is no fiddling with the composition. I need a supply of uniform quality every time, and prefer not to see any change in the structure or colour. Reliability is an important aspect of our relationship. I share my cultivation plans with them in advance, and they deliver sufficient growing media at the right location on a daily basis.’