ONZE is a commercial allotment garden situated in a greenhouse, within a peri-urban area of the City of Almere in the Netherlands. The greenhouse is owned and commercially managed by a farming family who ceased commercial rose growing activities, for the supply of the cut flower market, about ten years ago. The rose growing enterprise was no longer proving to be financially viable as the result of spiralling energy prices, the cost of labour and also the availability of cheap, abundant imports of roses from overseas.
In early 2012, following a year of consideration of how to best continue their farming business, the family decided to start an allotment garden specifically targeted toward the multi-cultural community of Almere. The concept was to offer plots available for year round fruit and vegetable production within a greenhouse environment and with different grades of service provision being made available to the tenants. Potential services ranged from very basic provision of facilities including water supply, pest control and plants for each plot, through to full support packages which included physical labour – this would be provided as a service for those not possessing “green thumbs”.
After some years of fine tuning the concept and enticing potential tenants to enrol, the farm has developed into a vibrant and dynamic allotment community and a profitable enterprise for the farmer’s family. By the year 2020 more than 450 plots (of about 40 m2 each) were being rented.
In addition, the farmer has also rented an adjacent greenhouse area to meet an ever increasing demand for plots. In the greenhouse, crops like runner beans, chilli peppers, melons, Antoerwa, and Sopropo are grown alongside more traditional Dutch crops. Along with providing allotments for the tenants, the farm additionally provides dedicated plots for schools, restaurants and for local community groups. There is also a shop on the site which sells surplus produce from the gardens directly to the public.
Photo Gallery (All pictures copyright Wageningen University & Research)