NL: Nursery Bernhard on the way to fossil-free

In 1972 Bram Bernhard senior took the big step to the Dutch village Luttelgeest. Twelve years earlier, as a 17-year-old boy, he joined his father's company in Amsterdam. They grow parsley, cucumbers, endives and other vegetables there, under flat glass. Bram is ambitious, switches to freesias in standing glass and the company is bursting at the seams within a few years. He sees an advertisement in the newspaper: a hectare of land in the Noordoostpolder! When he has to go on a ballot meeting with steward Schuiling, his father vouches for him and he is allowed to go to Luttelgeest. Bram builds good quality greenhouses there ('they are still there!') and starts his own transport company. His nursery is growing from one to two to three hectares. Son Simon joined the company in 1987, followed in 1998 by Bram junior. Bram senior officially stops in 2000, but continues to advise and assist his sons. Grandson William is now also active in the company.

In 2021, Kwekerij Bernhard has three successful companies with cut roses, Phalaenopsis and garden plants and a separate company for conditioned transport. The products find their way throughout Europe to the better retail, cash & carries and garden centers. About 20 percent goes to the auctions, including Plantion. Bernhard may have become 'a big name', but the craft and quality are just as important as before 'because a good product sells itself'. The fist-sized Avalanche roses are already open when they leave the company, but they are still in the vase for at least 14 days. The Phalaenopsis collection has more than 200 varieties, but Bernhard continues to search for additional varieties. And in the meantime, the company is investing seriously in sustainability: “As a contribution to a cleaner world and to create a unique sales position towards our customers.”

The initiative for an energy neutral company dates from 2014, also from a healthy self-interest: “We no longer wanted to be dependent on skyrocketing energy prices due to quarrels about natural gas, Brexit, a closed Suez Canal or a fickle government.” After six years of hard work, Bernhard realizes a field with 45,000 solar panels. In addition, the company will start with geothermal energy this autumn. Warm water is pumped up at a depth of 2 kilometers. The water heats the greenhouses and, when cooled, flows back into the earth. The greenhouse heating is therefore completely sustainable, with half the power consumption. In the coming years, Bernhard will switch to LED lighting. From 2025, every rose and every plant will leave the nursery without using fossil fuels. The innovations recently earned the company the title Entrepreneur of the Year in the Noordoostpolder. Bram junior: “We like to pioneer, like my grandfather started with vegetables in Amsterdam and like my father embarked on the adventure in Luttelgeest.”

Source: Plantion

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