17 May 2016
Sweet pepper nursery 4Evergreen in Westdorpe is expanding its operations by eighteen hectares. Construction work is in full swing and the first plants will be brought into the new greenhouse this November. The first harvest is expected in the first quarter of 2017.
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Three years ago the Grootscholte brothers took over a tomato nursery on the Smitsschorre polder, which is located on a twenty-six-hectare plot. A year later they purchased the last forty-two hectares of available land on this polder. The development of eighteen hectares of new land (phase 2) will give the Zeeland-Flanders branch of the company a total of twenty-eight hectares of greenhouses. With this expansion, the family business will own a total of eighty hectares of land, divided across six locations and devoted entirely to greenhouse horticulture.
4Evergreen new construction
Innovation in the sweet pepper industry
‘Between 2008 and 2015, the amount of land available for standard sweet pepper production declined by an average of 45 hectares per year. Growers have also started cultivating other sweet pepper varieties, such as pointed peppers, or are switching to entirely new crops,’ says Robert Grootscholte. But expanding the total land area is not enough; there also needs to be innovation. ‘We need more innovation in the sweet pepper sector. That’s something we’ve lacked in recent years.’
The new greenhouse is being constructed by BOM Group and will feature state-of-the-art technology including a double screen system to control the amount of light and a slip-in system by Peter Dekker Installaties. The heating systems will be installed by VB Group and the water and installation systems by Stolze.
Sustainably grown sweet peppers
Westdorpe uses residual heat and CO2 from the fertilizer factory Yara. Warmco supplies this residual heat from Yara, and it is then used to heat the greenhouses. ‘This makes it possible to grow the most sustainable sweet peppers in the Netherlands,’ explains Warmco's Jenny Crone. ‘4Evergreen holds environmental certificates, such as Milieukeur, for the sustainable production of sweet peppers. The area has enjoyed a considerable revival in the past few years. 4Evergreen recently purchased the remaining hectares of available land on the Smitsschorre polder.’
New job opportunities for the Westdorpe area
The expansion of the Axelse Vlakte will create sixty new jobs for sweet pepper grower 4Evergreen, and more during peak season. Most of the seasonal jobs are filled by temporary workers from Poland, but 4Evergreen’s Robert Grootscholte plans to hire employees from the region to fill the permanent positions. There is currently a vacancy for a junior cultivation expert and several vacancies at the processing facility.