Minimizing negative effects on the local community and environment in general is a priority for Hoogstraten. The cooperative based near Antwerp, in Belgium continuously works according to sustainable methods and stimulates sustainable entrepreneurship amongst their growers. Examples of methods adopted by growers include bee pollination and using environmentally friendly biologicals to control harmful insects. It is the role of Hoogstraten to support all members with targeted advice about the use of natural resources and CO2 reductions, amongst many other topics.
“We rely on nature to help us produce our delicious strawberries, so taking care of nature and our environment is a given. Without bees and pollination, there will be no strawberries”, says Synnøve Johansson, Business Development Manager at Hoogstraten.
The cooperative itself also plays a vital role in ensuring sustainable production is adhered to at the office and is constantly looking at innovative ways to evolve practices. Their new office building is energy efficient and with automated heating and lighting, among other things. Rainwater is collected both on-site and at growers’ facilities. The water is then recycled, and growers utilize this supply for irrigation in the greenhouses. Solar panels on the roofs of the cooperative produce green energy, which is mainly used for cooling the strawberries.
Research is a big part of more sustainable production and at Proefcentrum (Research Centre Hoogstraten) one of the current projects is specifically looking at the collection, decontamination, and reuse of rainwater from the tray fields used during the production of strawberry plants.
Johansson said: “Water management is another crucial aspect of sustainability, and a priority from a production point of view. The plants require high-quality water to produce our Hoogstraten strawberries”.