Tomatoworld is an experience center for Dutch greenhouse horticulture. Every year, it receives thousands of visitors from all over the world. That entails risks for the introduction and spread of diseases and pests. "In particular, the tomato brown virus ToBRFV forms a serious threat," says crop manager Ab van Marrewijk. "Our hygiene protocol, therefore, needed an upgrade. Royal Brinkman has helped us with advice and realization so that we can keep our doors open to the public."
Watch here an online video of the experiences of Ab van Marrewijk of Tomatoworld.
Tomatoworld has been a well-known center among professionals for years. The information and education center allows visitors to see and experience how modern greenhouse horticulture businesses operate and the contributions they make to solving important social issues, such as the sustainable use of water, energy, and other raw materials, responsible food production for a growing world population and the smart use of new technology.
Eliminate risks of visiting
Many visitors come from other countries or have no connection with horticulture. At Tomatoworld, they step into another world. A world that surprises and inspires. It is truly a showcase for the sector in the broad sense. "Our right to exist depends on visitors," says Ab van Marrewijk. "However, visitors can bring diseases and pests into the company unintentionally and transfer them to the plants in our demonstration greenhouse. That makes us fragile. We have the difficult task of eliminating that risk as much as possible while continuing to receive visitors. Some risk factors, such as the tomato brown virus, present special challenges. Our hygiene protocol was not yet sufficiently in line with that."
Hygiene in five steps
To ensure a solid solution, Van Marrewijk asked partner Royal Brinkman for advice and guidance. Hygiene specialist Dirk Timmers of the HortiHygienz department worked out a tailor-made plan. "We approach hygiene from a compass with five focus areas: Perfect crop rotation, People & Activities, Disease-Free Materials, Optimal Water Quality, and Responsible & Sustainable Cultivation. Tomatoworld's request is a good example of People & Activities."
Risk analysis In order to achieve complete access hygiene for people, Timmers and the customer first made a risk inventory. "Keeping viruses out is a major concern for tomato farms worldwide because employees walk in and out everywhere," says the expert. "Most companies keep their greenhouses closed to external visitors. At Tomatoworld in Honselersdijk, however, we receive many visitors from all over the world. The unique thing is that here they can go into the greenhouse to see the tomatoes being grown. The situation at Tomatoworld is complex. Sometimes, visitors only come to visit the classroom, sometimes they just want to take a look in the greenhouse, and sometimes both. Visitors who wish to enter the greenhouse are subject to a strict hygiene protocol to eliminate the risk of transmitting diseases and pests via hands, shoes, or clothing.
Dirk Timmers with Royal Brinkman and Ab van Marrewijk with Tomatoworld
Based on the risk analysis, a complete hygiene street was advised and designed. In it, visitors have to wash their hands with Menno H hand soap, disinfect their hands and shoes with Enno Rapid (hands) and Menno Florades (footwear) and put on protective guest clothing and gloves. Before entering the greenhouse, guests walk on a wetted Flexxomat with Menno Florades. Sensor-controlled locks with rotating gates at the various cleaning and disinfection points ensure that the next step can only be taken when the required action has been taken. "Mobile phones and other items that may contain viruses, bacteria, or fungi are to be left in designated lockers," adds the hygiene expert. "If there is no other option but to take them into the greenhouse, they should first be placed in a sealable bag. Afterwards, the hands must, of course, be disinfected."
The hygiene street
Van Marrewijk is positive about the high-quality, professional approach to the project. "It was well managed, substantiated, and executed from A to Z," he says. "We are very enthusiastic about the result. Previously, visitors were only provided with protective clothing, gloves, and hair nets. Thanks to the new hygiene street that Royal Brinkman realized here, the right measures are taken to continue receiving visitors in our greenhouse in a responsible manner. For most guests, this is and remains the highlight of their visit."