Since 1985, Jan van Alphen has been growing cucumbers on 0.9 hectares in Minderhout, Belgium, but now the assortment has been drastically expanded. Together with his family, Jan has made the decision to quit commercial production and to focus completely on agrotourism. "Our greenhouse is too small for current standards, and I didn't want to go into debt to add more greenhouse so close to my retirement."
Direct sales of vegetables have been doing well for some years, but since this month, the greenhouse has been transformed into a nice educational center. "We have been moving towards this for some years, but since this month, the step is definitive." In the greenhouse you will now also find, besides the traditional cultivation of cucumbers, bell peppers, and eggplants, melons, grapes, kiwi, berries, and cherries. "It's great for a grower to experiment with, and also: if you have a little of everything, it is easier to sell. We can supply fresh vegetables all year round."
Besides vegetables, you can find home-made wooden tables and a sand pit for the children. The educational aspect is also important. "We are now visited by school classes and associations. This way, we teach people where their food is coming from, for example by letting them plant themselves and seeing how vegetables grow."
In the surroundings of Minderhout, a sub-municipality of Hoogstraten, Jan does not know of similar projects. "We have come up with this ourselves. Meanwhile, every grower is deciding how to deal with the ongoing up-scaling. We are doing it in this way, but there are plenty of growers in the neighborhood who have switched to strawberry cultivation and who have expanded." Jan did not, and is very happy with his choice. "Another school class is coming to visit in a moment, always nice."