Prune tomato grower Vitensa from Vierpolders is switching to organic greenhouse vegetables, after recently receiving permission from organic certification body Skal. This week is the last time that tomatoes will be grown on rock wool in the greenhouses. The first organic harvest will take place in the summer of 2022.
Operational Manager Geert Visker explains that the grower with 7.2 hectares of glasshouses and its own packaging hall was looking for an alternative after twenty years of growing cherry tomatoes. "In recent years we have looked at our current business and the market and looked for something to go with it. The choice for us was either to grow or to specialize. We have already done the latter with cherry tomatoes and will now be doing so with organic greenhouse vegetables."
After the final conventional tomato harvest is completed this week, the greenhouse will remain empty for six months, in accordance with Skal regulations. "For us, this is a great opportunity to adapt our company. There is a lot involved in organic cultivation; the cultivation gutters will be removed, for instance, and we will have to drive in compost and make adjustments to our watering and heating system. This is necessary because we will be using crop rotation in organic cultivation and therefore also need to be able to control the various departments separately."
The growers are currently still working on setting up the cultivation plan for 2022. "That should be completed before the end of this calendar year," says Geert. "Everything is done in consultation with Harvest House. Together with them, we are taking the step towards organic."