Breeding museum 'Sow to Grow' gets help from North Holland province

Not many people know it, but the Netherlands is a world player in plant breeding and seed distribution. Recently, the province of North Holland has developed a new museum that focuses on this with exhibitions and educational programs: Sow to Grow.

A grant from the province of North Holland will be used to strengthen marketing and communication and increase visitor numbers.

Sow to Grow is located in the beautiful, historic building of the former orphanage in the heart of Enkhuizen, succeeding the Saet and Cruyt museum in Andijk. "In the old setting, the focus was mainly on history," says board member Tom Venneman. "With the new museum, we are also emphatically looking at the present and the future."

This is also important, according to Education Committee member and fundraiser Jan Timmerman. "After all, plant breeding is about the (further) development of plants and crops so that they meet people's wishes and needs as closely as possible. In these times of increasing population growth and climate change, the role of plants is becoming increasingly important. Plant breeding enhances the quality and quantity of food for humans and animals, as well as the liveability of our planet."

There is pride in the voices of both gentlemen. They are now retired but were active in plant breeding for many years before that. "We find it special that the Netherlands is a major player in this field, making an important contribution to the world's food supply."

Discovering, experiencing, and living
A visit to Sow to Grow is a real experience. Using digital tools, visitors can discover, experience, and witness the world of plant breeding and seeds for themselves. Apart from the general public and professionals, the target group consists of schoolchildren. Every week, Group 7 primary school students wander through the museum. "We hope to inspire and interest them in this subject. The sector can use a lot of people. Not only for breeding itself but also in engineering, HR, finance, and other fields."

As the sector is relatively reticent and does little in the way of public communication, Sow to Grow is taking on that role. Meanwhile, several companies in the industry are sponsoring the museum.

Project Forward
A marketing and communication plan saw the light of day in early 2022. "People actually always walk out the door here enthusiastically," explains project leader Jan van Berkel. "Yet visitor numbers are lagging somewhat behind. With the plan, we, therefore, came up with ideas to do something about that."

The grant, which Sow to Grow successfully applied for and now receives monthly in parts, will allow the museum to implement the plan. "It covers 80% of the costs, which is significant. For the remaining 20%, we have received pledges from the municipality and Rabobank. So the Project Forward, as we call it, is financially complete."

Sow to Grow wants to get the message all the way through first and will then go out and tap into new visitor groups in a variety of ways. "Among other things, we are thinking of using social media more and better. We can now hire experts for that. With that support, we hope to reach more secondary school students, for example, and more potential visitors from outside the region."

How important is the grant for Sow to Grow? Timmerman: "In the short term, it is important to be able to implement the ideas in our marketing and communication plan. But by extension, it is about more than that. Our day-to-day operations are supported by sponsors. They want to know from us about visitor numbers. If our plans attract more visitors, we are more likely to retain the support of our sponsors. So the grant will also help us ensure the long-term survival of Sow to Grow."

Venneman recalls the dark days of the pandemic lockdowns when museums had to close their doors and lost revenue. "There was support for museums, but as a small museum, we did not meet the criteria for it. For a long time, we received nothing from the state, province, or municipality. Fortunately, the municipality later stepped in, and we are now receiving this grant from the province. That gives citizens confidence again!"

Source: North Holland province

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