Three generations of experience
Teeltbedrijf Schalk is situated in Prinsenbeek in the province of Noord Brabant.
Martijn Schalk owns it together with his parents. ‘My father took over the business from his father, so it’s been in the family for three generations, which means three generations of experience. It’s a relatively small farm of about 25 hectares, divided into several plots. We’re currently growing cauliflower, oxheart cabbage, green cabbage, broad beans, and kale. In the past we also grew bunched carrots and leeks, but we stopped that. It simply didn’t pay enough.’
The various crops are planted and harvested according to a strict plan.
‘The cauliflower and oxheart cabbage are planted weekly from March onwards,’ says Martijn. ‘This planting continues until August. The first crops are harvested at the end of May. The weekly harvests continue until around mid-October. The other crops have different dynamics. We plant four crops of green cabbage from mid-July to mid-July. These crops are harvested from mid-September to Christmas. We plant the broad beans in mid-February and harvest them from mid-May to mid-July. That means that they’re only fresh for two months. Finally, we plant the kale every three weeks from 1 April onwards. That continues until mid-July. We can harvest the kale from the beginning of June to mid-February.’
Work all year round
This tight schedule means that there’s work all year round.
‘Our peak period is from May to November, says Martijn. ‘We have two to four seasonal staff working for us during this period to get all the work done. We do the planting and harvesting ourselves for the rest of the year. We do the harvesting manually, and the planting partly manually and partly by machine.’
It’s important to care for the environment,’ says Martijn, ‘which is why we’re currently working on obtaining an environmental certificate.
There’s more to that than meets the eye. The new guidelines for the environmental certificate have just been published. We’ll be taking a close look at our farm in terms of these guidelines. The aspects include pesticide limits, setting up the farm with wooded banks, mounting nesting boxes for birds, and being economical with manure and water. The steps you take as a company are of course audited. During the first audit you have to explain your plans and what you have already done. During the second audit you have to show that you’re doing what you promised. If everything’s as it should be, you’re awarded the certificate. And it doesn’t end there: after this you’re audited twice a year to make sure that you’re still meeting the standards. As you can see, this is an important step but a complicated one. Fortunately, Versland is helping us with this.’