Supporting growers in entrepreneurship is one of the pillars of ZON's strategy. To expand this, the Dutch growers cooperative is starting the 'ZON Growers Academy' in October 2015. This course offers members of ZON the chance to work on expanding and deepening their entrepreneurship with professional support.

Dutch horticulturists are known worldwide as people who know their trade and who are ahead when it comes to developing new cultivation and cultivation techniques. But a good tradesman is not necessarily a good businessman. General director Michiel F. van Ginkel of ZON: "We want to support our growers in any way possible. Under the influence of political, technological and social developments the economic recovery is progressing slowly and whimsically. To keep the Netherlands' head start in horticulture, more is needed than a competitive cost price. Through participation in ZON Growers Academy growers can expand their competences and enlarge their market insight. This should offer the grower more possibilities to better play into the wishes of the market and customer."

There are multiple initiatives in the country to develop growers' business qualities, but it is unique that ZON has made it part of the strategy and is actively facilitating its members in this.

Kees van Rooij, mayor of the Horst aan de Maas municipality and president of the steering group that was responsible for the horticulture acceleration agenda Limburg last winter, is happy with the ZON initiative. "One of the high priorities of the horticulture acceleration agenda Limburg is expanding and widening the entrepreneurship of agrarian businesses. It's great that ZON Growers Academy is meeting this need."

The ZON Growers Academy consists of three modules. The first module is an introduction that is open to all growers who need a refreshing look at their business and their own entrepreneurship. In this module the knowledge in the area of strategic management, finances and personnel is brushed up. Another important part of the introduction module is marketing.

Van Ginkel: "We hope that a number of growers who follow the introduction module will be so enthusiastic that they want to know more and understand better how they can successfully play into market developments. Those people will fill in actual plans to become more market focused in the second module. They will also make a business plan and a plan for market approach here. This should expand their opportunities to be able to successfully play into market developments." The third and final module is meant to further deepen sales and marketing questions through inter vision with other entrepreneurs (also from outside of the branch) thematically.

ZON will start the introduction module in October with nine sessions at Fresh Park Venlo, five meetings in 2015 and another four in 2016. More information on the ZON Growers Academy at .