Energy is a hot topic in the world of orchid cultivation. Becoming more sustainable is an essential step, but it also presents challenges. Mart and Jacqueline van Wingerden of the Bonito Plant nursery know how complicated it can be to solve that conundrum, but fortunately they do not have to deal with it on their own. “It is very important for us as a business to stay on track. With our MPS certificates and annual audits we know exactly where we stand.”

Bonito Plant is a family business through and through. The nursery was set up almost a hundred years ago by Jaap Boon senior, after which his sons took over the baton. In 2008 the business came into the hands of Jaap junior’s sons-in-law, who switched to growing orchids.

The energy crisis is currently causing major issues in the orchid sector, but at Bonito they are still doing fine, says Jacqueline van Wingerden-Boon, who handles admin, HR and marketing. “We work with a permanent team and temporary staff, many of whom have been with us so long that they have really become part of the team.” Altogether, more than 50 people are involved in the growing and processing of the Phalaenopsis – a popular plant, for example around International Women’s Day.

Energy crisis creates challenges in orchid cultivation

Owners Mart van Wingerden (left) and Ron Wachtmeester

One of the people behind Bonito Plant is co-owner Mart van Wingerden. Jacqueline’s husband keeps an eye on the business’s energy consumption – a hot topic within the sector. “Orchid growers are energy consumers, so we are going to have to protect ourselves against an uncertain future,” Van Wingerden says. “Energy was already a tough nut to crack, and it’s only going to get more complicated in the years ahead.”

Fortunately, Bonito has managed to weather the storm thanks to the energy positions the business has. They are also constantly introducing energy-saving measures to continue to meet future challenges in this area. “We use heat pumps and CHPs, for example, and we now have LED lighting in addition to HPS,” Van Wingerden says. “What’s more, we are currently installing a heat storage tank and we expect to be able to take part in the geothermal heat initiative Aardwarmte Maasdijk next year.”

Avoid switching too quickly
All in all, a lot is happening in terms of energy – and it needs to if the company is to become more sustainable. However, Van Wingerden warns the sector not to “suddenly yank the steering wheel” and head down an unknown road. “Growers shouldn’t rush into things. Phalaenopsis is a crop that takes a year to grow, so if you try to change aspects of your cultivation too fast, you could realise later on that you turned too soon and come to regret your decision.”

Support from MPS

Bonito is not wrestling with these sustainability issues alone, though. Van Wingerden refers to the excellent support they have received from Priva and AAB, and MPS also offers intensive guidance.

Van Wingerden-Boon agrees. “We are MPS-A, MPS-Socially Qualified (SQ), MPS-GAP and MPS-ProductProof certified. Not so much because our customers ask for that, but mainly because as a professional business it is important for us to stay on track. With those certificates and the annual audits we know exactly where we stand.”

Van Wingerden-Boon speaks highly of their working relationship with MPS. “We log everything in the MPS portal all year round, which gives us ongoing insights into the figures. Alongside that, the annual audit is also a regular point of contact with MPS. And if we have any questions in between times, we can always ask them, which is really helpful.”