Freek Verwaaijen, Location Manager Gendt
I feel at home in the greenhouse and among the plants. My career has always been in horticulture and after some wandering I ended up at Solynta in 2015. Now, I am responsible for the ins and outs of the 7,000m2 greenhouses at my location. But I didn’t start out in this position. I came on board as the practical man among the scientists. When I started, there were only a handful of people working at Solynta, and we used a small portion of a larger greenhouse. Now, with 100 people, it still feels like the same company, but just like the company, my work has grown enormously.
My daily work
My daily work resembles that of an independent horticulturist, only without the stress of entrepreneurship. That role fits me perfectly. Although I must admit that I do feel very responsible for the plants, on a sunny weekend I always check in between to see if everything has enough water. Then I spend the rest of the Sunday quieter in the garden. The biggest difference with working in regular horticulture is that you work there under enormous time pressure, and here we work with the greatest precision.
Why this job is different
The biggest difference with working in regular horticulture is that you work there under enormous time pressure, and here we work with the greatest precision. It is more important that it is done right, than that it is done quickly. That's a relief. As a result, you can also do your job better, and I get more satisfaction from it. I can give the crop the time it needs to look good. Partly because of this, the team atmosphere is also very good. Everything is done in consultation, and even if something goes wrong, you will never hear anyone speak in an accusing tone. I have a lot of freedom, and a lot of responsibility, and that's what makes the work so beautiful.
My working days vary quite a bit per season, but we always start at 7 o'clock, after having a cup of coffee together. In winter, when the greenhouse is empty, it is fairly quiet. Then we are often with just a small team of only 2 or 3 people, and we mainly clean up and prepare for a new season. When the greenhouse is full and everything is in bloom, it is very busy all day long.
The greenhouse is usually full of people who are busy with the trials, who are doing cross-breeding, and I will also keep a close eye on whether we need extra people for crop maintenance. 7,000m2 is quite a large area, and we have to check it all carefully, to see whether the plants need water, or if they need something else. When I know that the plants are doing well and, they have enough water and fertilizer and can manage until tomorrow, that’s when I go home with a good feeling.