Four growers who make tea and work together under the name 'Theelers' have been nominated for the 'New crops, new applications' theme award of the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award 2023. They are Westlandpeppers, Gova, Bak Bromelia and De Kruidenaer.
"It was a lot of sparring, throwing out ideas. But ideas are often vistas. Turning residual streams into a value was and is a hot topic, so instead of just talking about it, we decided to do it with a small club, you know," Pieter Boekestijn says of the creation of Theelers.
"Basically, tea is low-threshold," Pieter continues. "At Westlandpeppers, we already had experience in drying. We hired a freelance tea sommelier who worked with the dried produce from our crops to create a blend. Together, we then develop the flavor. Because each blend is different, it also gives room for other parties to use their residual stream. So in terms of that, it is definitely scalable."
The initial impetus for Theelers was paid for with various grants. "Those innovation funds are very important for this kind of initiative," Pieter explains. "As long as the conditions attached to the money are not too restrictive. Innovation needs space. Of course, the government sets certain frameworks for the money, but in practice, it is important to be able to switch. That is now the practice of innovation."
Theelers is now at a tipping point. "The biggest challenge of this kind of initiative is that it doesn't drop dead," says Pieter. "That it doesn't remain just one beautifully completed project. The potential is too great for that. But we have to keep the flow going. Especially now, we have to get stuck in and pull. That does mean you have to make choices about investments, markets, and marketing now. That's where we are now. A nice challenge, anyway."
Source: Tuinbouw Ondernemersprijs