‘Pioneering with growers and buyers’
Wilco Remijn, agronomist with Green Organics:
“My father has a conventional arable farm. When I was at agricultural secondary college he said to me, ‘You should do an internship with an organic grower. That’s where the future lies.’ So I went and did that and he was right, organic is great. One of the things that my graduation internship (for the agricultural college) on an organic farm focused on was sales to trading companies. As part of that, I came to Green Organics to interview someone. When I sent them a copy of my graduation project at the end of my course, I added, ‘If you happen to have any jobs available in the organic sector, please let me know.’ Jan (Groen, owner of Green Organics) invited me to come for coffee, and that’s how I came to work here as a cultivation supervisor. I specialise in peas and green beans.
I’m outside all day long, on the growers’ land. I make sure that the seeds are sown, I monitor the crops as they grow, and I answer questions on things like weed control for example. Some growers are only just starting out with organic cultivation; they need lots of extra information and advice.
In the meantime, my father’s now even more enthusiastic about organic cultivation. He might even want to make the switch eventually. [Laughing] He says that I should do all the organising, because by now I’ve learned so much about selling organic vegetables and potatoes. After all, that’s an art in itself. It’s something that Green Organics is good at. We ensure that the growers’ produce gets to the right place at the right time. We at Green Organics organise all the planning with the factories and other processors.
The great thing about organic cultivation is that the way you work with the crops is different to how you do it in conventional cultivation. Everything needs to happen at the right time. Take weed control, for example – we don’t use any pesticides, so you have to use the tractor-mounted weeder at the right time. The timing is vital; if you leave it too late, then you won’t be able to remove the weeds with the tractor-mounted weeder and the weeding will have to be done by hand.
I also think the cultivation methods are really interesting. Sometimes they still haven’t been determined; then we really do pioneer them. Take soy cultivation for example, it’s an unknown crop, in the Netherlands at least. At the same time, there’s a demand for organic soy, so we’re now responding to that. A number of our affiliated growers and customers are enthusiastic and are embarking on the adventure along with us. We work with nature, and nature gives no guarantees – especially when you’re growing a crop that is adapted to high temperatures. Green Organics is sticking its neck out and is connecting the links in the chain. That’s very important, certainly for the emergence of soy in the Netherlands.”