The unlighted department of Tomato Vision, Syngenta's new demonstration greenhouse in Maasland, the Netherlands, has planted a new crop. How does the Tomato Vision team look back on the first few months in the new greenhouse?
"I can proudly say that it has gone very well," says Arthur van Marrewijk with a big smile. Arthur is a product specialist at Syngenta. A new greenhouse, a new team to cooperate with in the greenhouse, ToBRFV and the Corona virus. Enough challenges for him and his team to face. Arthur: "In terms of cultivation, it went very well. New things always take some getting used to, of course, and both viruses demanded some creative solutions, but we're very satisfied."
Arthur van Marrewijk
In six months, a completely new greenhouse was built. "Before we started building the greenhouse, we faced an important choice. Windows with nets or without? The new virus, ToBRFV in the tomato cultivation was the reason for us to choose for netted windows. Where possible, you want to do everything you can to keep a virus out of the greenhouse," explains Arthur.
Cultivation wise, Arthur sees a clearly higher production and a higher fruit weight. "That's mostly because we have a more modern, more translucent greenhouse. Also, we barely needed to do any chemical interventions during this cultivation. That's partially due to the netted windows."
Virtual look in the greenhouse
The Corona virus hindered the festive opening of Tomato Vision back in May of this year. A 'real life celebration' couldn't take place. Via a livestream, visitors were taken on a tour of the new location and got a guided visit. That still happens now. When customers want to look inside the greenhouse, they're taken on a virtual tour. "We get positive reactions to that. The customers like being involved in all the new developments like this," says Arthur.
Translation of practice
Next to positive responses to the virtual tour, the Tomato Vision team receives more positive reactions from customers. Arthur: "We notice that growers appreciate it very much that the greenhouse and cultivation are now a good comparison to the 'real world'. The circumstances in the greenhouse are now the same as the circumstances for a grower. That's a nice development for both sides."
The brand new Tomato Vision in Maasland, the Netherlands
"It's still difficult to welcome customers, which makes it hard to let them taste tomatoes. That has to change," says Arthur. A sample box is being designed. In the box, Syngenta sends the different varieties to the customer. That can be a little snack tomato, but also a large beef tomato. "We design the boxes in such a way that all the varieties can be sent to the customer."
Above Tomato Vision's entrance is now an empty room. But that is going to change next year. Lotfi Bani, Value Chain Manager at Syngenta, designed a new plan for this room.
Lotfi enthusiastically talks about the new plan: "From retail, I increasingly notice an interest for where the products come from. To create more affiliation with retail, we are going to make a 'retail area'. It's going to be a demonstration area where we imitate a supermarket, for instance. That way we can realistically show how the products look lying in the supermarket."
In the course of next year the retail demonstration room will be ready to receive customers.
Improve Inspire Connect
Tomato Vision stands for 'Improve Inspire Connect'. Arthur hopes that it will be possible again next year to welcome different people at Tomato Vision. "It's a place for colleagues, growers, retailers et cetera to learn from each other and inspire each other. It will be a place where we will share our knowledge. This will definitely influence the developments in the tomato cultivation and stimulate the cooperation between different parties."