"Change, differing opinions, and respect for each other, that's timeless"

"When we moved to Zwethlaan in the late 1980s, we were the 'Jonkies.' 'Rabolaan' as it was popularly called, because all entrepreneurs were starting new businesses there, was nice and quiet. The street was a dead end. There was no auction route in those days. You just walked straight into the polder and looked over the Zweth. And, of course, we started doing everything differently from our parents! From tomatoes to pot plants and mechanizing, we thought it could all be done better!"

Speaking is Erik Persoon of Forever Plants. In 'Stem uit de Polder,' a publication by Coöperatie Broekpolder, he talks about the developments in entrepreneurship in the region across generations.

"It was a fun and friendly time. There was a neighborhood association and a newspaper, 'De Zwethser,' and card and tennis evenings together, but there was also hard work. Gradually, more young people moved in, and the young families had children. We drove the children to school together. It was in Kwintsheul, so the children could cycle there safely themselves once they got older. We also experienced quite a few changes together, such as the millennium, the introduction of the euro, the breakthrough of CHP, and the banking crisis. Every now and then, a neighbor stopped and was taken over."

"Entrepreneurs are generally stubborn, so discussions about changes were at the cutting edge. Not everyone just lets themselves be convinced. Sometimes we also just didn't come to the same conclusion, and discord arose. So the trick was to at least keep the atmosphere good and keep talking to each other."

"Collaboration was always one of the answers to change. That helped you to see how the others handled it or ensured that you, as a smaller entrepreneur, still counted in the market. We always actively participated in that too, whether it was in Ficus Forever as a growers' association or in Trias around geothermal heat."

"When our boys reached adolescence, of course, there came a 'Hok'; from that, a close group of friends arose that is still there after 18 years. Still nice to see that this now includes the new 'Jonkies' and to witness that a good number of them have also chosen entrepreneurship."

"Soon, I hope to become a grandfather, and I will definitely be assigned to the camp of the 'Oudjes.' That will almost complete the circle, and it will be up to the new generation to shape the future together."

"In doing so, the change in our beautiful polder will not stop. Discussions with each other will also lead to differences of opinion again. And so will the discussions around the future picture of our polder. This brings me to my conclusion: "Change, differing opinions, and respect for each other, that's timeless."

Source & for more information: Coöperatie Broekpolder 2024

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