NAME: Elise Duivenvoorden
COUNTRY: The Netherlands
BACKGROUND: University Social Studies
POSITION: Owner, nursery of plants, especially perennials
ORGANIZATION: Kwekerij de Windroos
My Background and Career
I took a midlife-twist 15 years ago: I changed my profession from a freelance journalist to a cultivator of plants. With your hands rooting up the soil, that is lovely. I let grow a non-ordinary assortment of perennials, long living plants. The sort of plants I let grow are those I like myself. I cultivate them as enduring and ecological as possible. I have 1,5 ha of ground, which I can treat with 2 persons. From spring till autumn Alla, a Polish woman, is helping me already for 7 years. My land and garden are placed along the North Sea in the tourist bulb area of Callantsoog. I sell the roots, the perennials, in big amounts, to exporters. We nurse around 120 sorts. So I sell around 150.000 - 200.000 perennials a year, for worldwide sales in the Netherlands, Germany, France, America and Japan. Besides that I have a little garden to show the plants and for myself to see their specific characteristics and a little sales through my web shop www.KwekerijdeWindroos.nl. Passing by tourists can buy some plants in a pot. I let myself inspire by the species in the English cottage gardens. Yearly we expand our assortment. My parents, retired bulb- growers, are still the owners of the land and buildings. My father knows nothing of perennials, but I learned a lot from him on treating the ground. He is still active in networks of growers and farmers and follows their newsletters. So he keeps me informed, for instant about items as new regulations and the quality and salt grade of the groundwater in the region
It still is a bit of a ‘men’s world’, the growers and farmers sector. They often cultivate on a big scale, so the economic viable sorts. I am specialised in unique sorts of perennials, especially the older sorts, as to be seen in the English gardens. The men in our sector probably did not expected me, a female grower, to be able conquering for a fixed position among them. By professionalizing our nursery moreover and delivering a good quality, I proved to be a stayer. I am able to earn a good living, I can invest in machines and do all of that as durable as possible. Sometimes I bargain services. My shed is so big, that I could give a piece of it to my neighbour. In return, he offers me good thinking by investing in durable solutions and easy tools ‘for women’ and does some repairs. He developed for instant a self-driving car for the weed process and to protect the plants against the wind, an easy tool to wire poles. Our sandy ground near the coast, is quite poor. So that needs a lot of attention. I try as much as possible to go with the flow of nature; anyhow not working against nature. We work with slow organic manure for the ground and feed the leaves of the plants with biologic specimen. By doing so, we will not disturb the condition of the soil. That is ecologic farming. Biologic farming is a step further. The processes, for that trade-mark, are far more standardised.
The professional of let growing plants, I learned myself, with practical experimenting. It takes time to discover which ecologic methods are appropriate to grow plants on our ground. You try to manage in certain directions, however the secret is: moving along with nature. We share our experiences and opinions in this region in study-clubs and courses with growers, farmers and advisors, to be able finding our methods to treat our ground as ecological as possible. To grow much bigger, is not what I want. You than need more specialists. For instant people at your office for sales. With periodical help of other (mostly) women, I can run my own business and it is still possible for me, to have that lovely feeling of touching the earth, with my own bare hands.