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Steenwijk Abbenes: "The market demands an environmental certificate"

March 2, 2022

Steenwijk Abbenes
In the south of the Haarlemmermeerpolder, Steenwijk Abbenes grows many species of summer flowers, especially for direct trading. All flowers are grown outdoors. The company has held an environmental certificate for years now. What benefits does it deliver in practice?
‘We started with an environmental certificate years ago now. At that time, Royal FloraHolland gave you a discount and I felt it was good for my company. And I still think so’, says Timo Steenwijk. He is a fourth generation grower and since 1997 owner of Steenwijk Abbenes, which began over a 100 years ago as an arable farming and livestock breeding company. ‘When I took the company over I started with flowers. There’s just more money to be made in that.’

It’s a brief remark that shows how commercially minded he is. ‘Even back then, customers were asking us whether we held an environmental certificate. These days, customers simply demand one. We don’t want to lag behind the market. I grow the flowers that customers want to buy. This certificate shows we do what we say we do. It’s all measurable and verifiable. So how does an environmental certificate benefit us? First and foremost, it means you now have a market for your products.’

Outdoor cultivation

Steenwijk Abbenes specialises in growing a broad assortment of summer flowers in large quantities. Timo: ‘At our nursery, we grow many varieties of summer flowers. The quantity we grow of each one depends on the demand that we have for the various varieties. We will soon start growing peonies, again in several varieties. We also grow Carthamus, Bupleurum, Brassica, Callistephus, Helianthus and others. All our flowers are grown outdoors. This is why we supply our products from early May to early December. We try something new every year, different varieties, We do tests with them. We try to follow the market, so it’s ‘what does the customer want?’

Added value

In addition to his environmental certificate, Timo also holds a GLOBALG.A.P. Flowers & Ornamentals and GRASP certificate. ‘For environmental certificates, you don’t actually do much more than register for one. It’s a monitoring tool that allows companies with which companies can make the right adjustments to reduce their environmental impact. The requirements that they set are required by law. So you then do the minimum to show that you are cultivating responsibly. With GLOBAL.G.A.P GRASP, you are also assessed for social risks, which raises awareness throughout the company.’ GLOBALG.A.P Flowers & Ornamentals also looks at issues of product traceability, the environment, safety and hygiene within the company. Once a year, we dot all our i’s and cross all our t’s and I do mean ALL of them! From hazard identification to risk assessment. ‘This forces you to keep everything in order. Once a year, we even look at the first aid kit, that’s how far we go.’ And the amount of paperwork? ‘It’s difficult, of course, to keep everything up to date. However, we’ve got used to it now. And I can’t complain, because we have an administrative assistant.’