"Resilient cultivation is not solving problems, it is preventing them", says Hans Cupping of Maatschap Cuppen, a Dutch grower of amaryllis, sansevierias, winter purslane, arugula and strawberry plants. He is growing these products organically for many years and is pleased with the results.

According to Cupping, the secret of a healthy crop lies in a healthy soil, which creates a healthy plant and this in turn is a resilient plant. A resilient plant, for example, does not attract lice. Lice love sugar, but a healthy plant converts sugars into starch. For this reason, we decided to stop applying nitrogen several years ago. Extra nitrogen stimulates photosynthesis and therefore the production of sugars. However, too much sugar cannot be converted into starch. And that is what a louse is doing: it destroys plants that do not thrive, for example, they contain too much sugar.”

When the soil is healthy, you can grow mix several crops. "However, the soil has to contain everything, in order to let Mother Nature do her job. It is a continuous learning process. It took 30 years and we had to learn from some 'expensive' lessons, before everything went as desired. But it pays off.”

Trade does not like organic
Maatschap Cupping is one of the few companies with organic flowers. Although Hans is already working for decades, with a lot of enthusiasm, it does not seems to take off. "A couple of years ago about 23 Dutch flower growers, who called themselves Florganic and later Bioflora, stood up for the common interests of the growers. However, due to the cumbersome relation with the trade and regarding the sales guarantees it seems to be harder then expected and many dropped out."

But concepts such as organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly becomes more and more a mindset of consumers. "It is the trade that constraints it, and not the consumer", Hans continues. "They do not know what to do with 'organic'. There's a story attached to it that you have to sell. And on the clock the organic plants do not sell well. Prices are lower rather than higher, while production costs are often somewhat higher.”

Business operations
And regarding these lower prices this Dutch grower stopped supplying the auction. "I only grow what I previously sold. Call it self-protection. However we, as a relatively small company, want the necessary guarantees. "Another development is that amaryllis production is being decreased over the last years, and partly for the same reason. "We have a large client, a supermarket in Switzerland. This supermarket always wants one bulb size, in a particular color, and in practice this is very difficult to achieve. Often, the other products remain. And if we lose this client, then what?

But Cuppen sees a bright future for his nursery. "We have a good greenhouse which has been renovated recently."

"During the past year it seemed more people called me. That is new. The trade is certifying, so maybe it all becomes well in the end. Organic is the future because, Hans knows, the product is simply better. "With a healthy, rich soil you produce the best, most nutritious products, and in addition a fine and uniform product: I challenge anyone to see for yourself! An organic cultivation pays off, but it takes a learning process. We lost the knowledge and awareness that organic works, which we will rediscover. Because organic - I repeat once again - is better for people, the environment and the crop.

For more information:
Maatschap Cuppen – Cuppen
Hans Cuppen
Meterikseweg 124
5961 CZ Horst
T: 077-3985383
M: 06-20997721
E: hans.cuppen@kpnmail.nl