“For us, MPS primarily helps us to take a closer look at our use of crop protection agents and fertilisers. The regular record-keeping involved helps us keep track and make efforts to keep our use of these products as low as possible. Additionally, many customers require us to have MPS certification. That’s not something we can ignore,” says Claudia Duesmann, the team member responsible for logging usage.

Claudia Duesmann

Duesmann has been supporting Carolin Melle (33), owner of Gärtnerei Melle in Ganderkesee, north Germany, and her management team since 2022. Under the leadership of the third generation, the nursery today focuses on the cultivation of Pelargonium, Petunia, Erica, Calluna and perrenials in pots and containers for summer sales; and all this on an area of around 20 hectares.

The nursery is open to the public from April to July, with customers coming from far and wide to buy their plants. The quality, range and in particular the expert advice on offer are highly valued. Like her father and grandfather before her, Carolin Melle places great value on person contact with consumers. She makes use of these interactions to experiment within the product range or to try out new combinations and pot sizes, for example. In these close customer relationships, many of which have developed over long periods of time, sustainable production methods are assumed as a matter of course – even if this is rarely communicated. The company routinely uses 100% recyclable PCR plant pots and collects empties during deliveries. Careful crop selection, which involves prioritising certain varieties, helps reduce weed infestations. Carolin Melle decided to join the MPS-ABC monitoring programme back in 2017.

The team of Melle

After the summer months, the 25-strong team of regulars and seasonal workers turn their attention fully to producing heathers, primarily for the trade. Originally introduced as a stopgap by Carolin’s father Günter Melle in the 1980s, heathers now account for the largest share of the company’s turnover, with 1.7 million plants per season. They sell the complete Gardengirls® product range in various pot sizes and even in bowls via auctions as well as to specialist garden centres, wholesalers and directly to nurseries specialising in cemetary plants. Carolin Melle firmly believes that having your sustainability efforts certified is of great importance and indeed often a prerequisite for doing business with these sales channels. As the team member in charge of MPS data logging, Claudia Duesmann is delighted with the new yearly overviews in the portal, not least as they are a useful tool in internal analyses with the operations manager. The company comes in well below comparable companies in all three categories of active substances in crop protection agents, as does their substantially lower energy usage thanks to a relatively new solar PV system. Expansions in the growing area have led to increases in fertiliser usage: “Everything is so easy to track – we are very pleased with ourselves,” Duesmann says.

Carolin Melle at the TASPO Awards

Carolin Melle found herself unexpectedly having to take over at the helm of the long-established company as a 22-year-old student. She worked hard to familiarise herself with the business and is these days bursting with energy and a love of experimentation. Her courage and success with the support of the team led her to win the IPM Gold Award as Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 at the TASPO Awards a few weeks ago. We are proud to have the company in the MPS community.