Kwekerij van Winden Erica

The company Van Winden Erica was founded in 1947 by Joop van Winden and is located in Erica in the province of Drenthe. Since 1997, they are growing Zamioculcas in Erica on 90,000 m2. Since 2007, neighbouring greenhouses have been purchased for the cultivation of an exclusive species of blue-grey succulent plant called ‘Curio Mount Everest’ and bedding plants, violas, geraniums, senetti’s, hanging baskets, chrysanthemums and patio roses with 15 cm large flowers. Until 1986, they cultivatd mainly vegetables, lettuce and tomatoes under heating.  The Van Winden family originally came from Schipluiden. The third generation of Van Winden is now active in the company. Joop van Winden started in 1947, his son Andre van Winden joined the company in 1982 and now grandson Tom has joined too. Tom studied technical business administration and is currently in charge of the daily management of the location where bedding plants are grown.

Over the past 10 years, Van Winden has paid a lot of attention to the production of healthier and more environmentally conscious products. This is because the consumer also expects this and laws and regulations require it. The result is that Van Winden Erica is using more and more organic products and fewer and fewer crop protection products.

Producing strong, healthy and beautiful plants, without using crop protection agents to keep pests and diseases under control, remains the biggest challenge.


Rainwater collected in water basins is being utilized. This water is checked annually to make sure that it contains no wrong substances. If really necessary, surface water can be used as well.

The greenhouses are equipped with a closed watering system. This means that all the water that is not absorbed by the plants is collected again. The water is then purified and filtered and can be returned to the plants. As a result, no water with fertilizers is washed into public waters.

The plants are watered with nutrients via a new spraying system. This system ensures that the plants receive water in an efficient and effective way, which benefits the water consumption and the growth of the plants.

The water consumption of Van Winden Erica has no influence on the drinking water supplies in the region.



It is very important for the cultivation of healthy plants to keep the pests within the nursery under control. If pests are not tackled early, this could cause major damage.

Within the company some people check on a daily basis whether there are any pests or diseases in the plants. If they find something, an attempt will be made to control this disease and pests by using biology (natural enemies). Also, natural enemies will be added preventively. For example, the parasitic wasp or spidex predatory mites. This approach reduces the use of crop protection products to a minimum. Rodents can be kept outdoors by good hygiene. If this does not work, the cat will help to find and catch the rodents.



The carbon footprint of the largest crop, the Zamioculcas, is known. Every year, an effort is made to decrease this footprint. The biggest gain can be achieved by choosing alternative energy sources. The possibilities for the best alternative energy sources are now being investigated by a group of growers in Erica. These include geothermal energy, solar panels, windmills, solar boilers, heat exchangers and smart-grids (a link between the many users and producers of energy for more efficient use).

Since suppliers also influence the footprint, suppliers are carefully chosen.

The use of fossil fuels is further reduced by using CHP (Combined Heat and Power). This means that the gas, which has been used for many years to heat the greenhouses, is used more efficiently. Electricity is generated when the gas is burned. The generated electricity is used for the lamps and the heat and CO2 that is released is used for the feeding and growth of the plants.

Part of the green waste is collected by third parties who then compile it and partly process it into waste wood. The other part of the green waste (waste from the Zamioculcas) is processed by Van Winden Erica into compost and spread over a piece of grassland.

The transport to the customers is done by the transport company Transpa Emmen. They drive modern trucks that meet the strictest Euro 6 environmental standards.

Crop Protection Agents Kg Active Ingredient: 

Provides insight into the use of plant protection products. Red stands for substances with a high environmental impact, orange for substances with a low impact on the environment, green for substances with a low impact on the environment (Source MPS-A).

Energy (GJ):

Provides insight into the use of the amount of energy. (Source MPS-A)

Fertilizers (KG) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Consumption:

Provides insight into the use of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. (Source MPS-A)


Van Winden Erica has 20 permanent employees and uses 30 temporary workers during the seasons. The working method is based on the conditions described in the Collective Labour Agreement for greenhouse horticulture. Employees therefore have an employment contract, providing them with income security.  The temporary employment agencies working here also meet the requirements of the Collective Labour Agreement.


Within the company, a great deal of attention is paid to the safety, health (hygiene), welfare and training of employees. To ensure that there is always a point of contact, a safety officer is present within the company. There are 4 in-house emergency officer active within the company who also have access to an AED for emergencies. The locations and activities of Van Winden Erica are inspected annually in accordance with the Risk Inventory & Evaluation regulations of Sazas.

All these employees (men, women, ethnic minorities, Dutch) are treated equally and have equal opportunities within the company. If necessary, accommodation is arranged for the employees. This accommodation meets all the high requirements that can be expected of a decent accommodation. Van Winden Erica also has this checked regularly by specialised certification companies.

In the region, Van Winden Erica supports the local football club, the swimming pool and an animal park.


Did you know that flowers and plants have a healthy effect on people?

  • Plants provide air purification..
    People breathe in air, take out oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. In the case of plants it is the other way around. During photosynthesis, plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it back into oxygen. The amount of oxygen in the air is increased by the presence of plants, which makes breathing easier.
    Air-purifying plants can absorb harmful substances from the air through their leaves. These harmful substances are then stored and broken down in the plant’s roots. These plants can also break down dirty odours, so they are actually natural air fresheners.
    For the sake of clarity, every (indoor) plant produces oxygen, but not every plant also purifies the air. Air-purifying plants are e.g. the Spathiphyllum, Calathea, Hedera helix (ivy), Areca palm and the Ficus. For many plants we do not yet know to what extent they have an air purifying effect since they have not yet been tested.
  • Plants ensure a better concentration and a reduction of stress.
    Plants create a relaxed and better atmosphere, also at work.. Plants make the workplace a more pleasant place to work.
    Apparently there is even a relationship between the presence of plants and the productivity of employees.
    Moreover, the presence of plants has a positive effect on the creativity and concentration of people.
  • Plants reduce the dryness of the air
    The dust content and humidity in the house are strongly related with each other. The dryer the air, the more dust. This can cause symptoms such as a tickling cough, dry skin, headaches and irritated eyes. By watering plants, it finally evaporates again through the stomata in the leaves. Plants can thus increase the humidity of the air, which therefore benefits the air quality.
  • Plants provide a pleasant and warm feeling
    Research has shown that plants are good for people in various (subtle) ways. They play an essential role in creating a pleasant, natural and quiet environment in which to move, work and/or relax.
  • Did you know that flowers too have a healthy effect on people?
    Flowers can brighten up any room in a magical way. They give meaning to our emotions such as love, joy, comfort, compassion and sorrow. Flowers provide a relaxing effect on our constitution. They provide positive energy in the home and a warm feeling. In short, everyone is just very happy about that!

Zamioculcas (Raven)

Patio Roses

Curio Mount Everest





The Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector is worldwide renowned for its innovative power. In order to be one step ahead of the competition from other parts of the world, people are constantly looking for better efficiency in the use of raw materials and space. This, of course, without compromising the (top) quality of the Dutch product.

The glasshouse horticulture sector in the Netherlands can cope with this rapid pace of innovation thanks to a strong relationship between research and practice. In addition, a great deal of knowledge is exchanged between the entrepreneurs in order to make progress together. The flower auctions are a good example of this as one of the largest cooperatives in the world.
Below we describe a few examples of this innovative power.


Biological control and integrated pest management
In order to minimise the use of pesticides and to find a better balance between parasites and their natural enemies, natural enemies of the parasites are used in the greenhouses. Thanks to the intensive exchange of knowledge between the growers and their suppliers, growers are increasingly able to produce a top quality product with organic solutions.


Combined heat and power (CHP)
Combined heat and power (CHP) is a large engine, originating from the shipping industry. Only it has been converted to run on natural gas. The efficiency of this motor is higher than traditional gas boilers. These engines drive a generator that generates electricity. This electricity is used in the company’s own nursery or is supplied back to the public electricity grid. The ‘residual heat’ produced by the engine is used to heat the greenhouses. After cleaning, the exhaust gases can be used to provide the plants with CO2. All in all, these motors provide an efficiency that can be up to 20% higher than the traditional method of heating (gas boilers).


Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is used for this type of energy. A drilling tower is used to drill a well to a depth of 2-3 km. At this depth, water of more than 80 degrees can be ‘collected’. This heat is used to heat the greenhouses and then the cooled water is returned to the soil via a second source. It is expected that these sources will be able to continue to produce sufficient heat, even longer than the life of a greenhouse.

Drilling the well is an enormously expensive investment. In addition, there is a great risk that the drilling will ‘fail’. By working together with each other and with governments, in the Netherlands we are able to gain experience with this way of heating greenhouses sustainably.


Water purification
Plants need water and nutrients to grow. More and more nurseries are making use of the reuse of drainage water. This is water that is collected before it disappears into the subsoil. This ‘drainage water’ still contains many nutrients that can be used by the plants.
By reusing this water and mixing it with clean water, less fertilizer is used.
However, the drainage water also contains some ‘wrong substances’. The content of these wrong substances determines how much water can be reused. The application of new techniques creates opportunities to filter these ‘wrong substances’ out of the water.


Diffuse glass
In new constructions, more and more growers are opting to cover their greenhouses with diffuse glass. Diffuse glass ensures that light is distributed much more evenly across the crop without any shade or light spots. This leads to a more even greenhouse climate.
Temperature and humidity can thus be controlled more accurately, which means, for example, that the opening of the air windows can be limited, which leads to lower CO2 emissions.


LED lighting in greenhouse horticulture
A new innovation in horticulture is the use of LED lighting. This lighting is not comparable with LED lighting used in consumer use. In the horticultural sector, the lighting is produced by ‘power LEDs’ and therefore much higher. The major advantage of these ‘power LEDs’ is related to sustainable business practices: energy savings compared to high-pressure sodium lamps (orange-coloured lighting). This saves more than half of the energy.
Another major advantage is that when using LEDs, crops can be better controlled using the different colours in the light. This is in favour of a better growth and a higher quality of the product.

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