undefined

About us

My name is Ilse Jochems, I’m 23 years old. I studied at HAS University of Applied Sciences and after I finished my studies I joined my family’s tree nursery, so I now work here and part-time I teach in pre-vocational education (VMBO), so I teach students aged between 12 and 16 about the green sector. 

The nursery here is 10 ha container nursery stock, mainly Pieris, Hebe, conifers, and grasses. A wide range of varieties. Then my uncle owns a nursery in a village nearby and our two nurseries together have a trading company called About Plants Zundert b.v.. About Plants Zundert b.v. trades our products and those of other nurseries from the area, which allows us to guarantee day trade and increases our product range even more. Most of our customers are garden centers and landscapers, in the Netherlands and abroad.

Why did you decide to go into the family business?

I think I’ve always liked the nursery. Since a very young age, I’ve spent time on the nursery when I was at home after school or during holidays, building huts from crates in the greenhouse. At 13-14 I started helping out on Saturdays and in school holidays. About halfway through my secondary school I had my mind made up that I was going to study horticulture & arable farming, so that’s when I really chose plants. Until my very last semester at HAS University I was set to go straight into the family business after I finished my studies, but then there was this email that caught my eye, about the opportunity to become a teacher, which really appealed to me. Now that I am a part-time teacher, I really love it, getting kids passionate about green subjects, like plant propagation, landscaping, becoming a florist, and plants in general, but I could never do this full-time…I’m glad I can do half-half. And eventually my plan is to be fully committed to the nursery and stop teaching at school, that’s what I really want. But it’s good to gain the experience, working for another employer, meeting new people and learning new things. It also doesn’t mean I will stop teaching completely. Hopefully I will be teaching in my own classroom at our tree nursery in future, to my own students of all different ages.


From next year (2022) I’ll do a maximum of 2.5 days per week of teaching and the rest I’ll be working at home in the nursery. My younger brother is coming home too, he is currently a landscaper, but he and I will be running the nursery together in future. We still have plenty of things to figure out, like how the workload will be divided. He’s definitely not an indoor type, though, so it might well be that some of the office business will automatically fall onto me, but we will see. With my knowledge, I could also run the plant production side of things, I find it very interesting, too. But realistically, watching how mum and dad currently run the business, it is too much for one person to run the production and finances and sales and everything else. So we will divide it between us.

schermafbeelding_2021-04-28_om_09.56.08.jpg (copy)

What was the
first thing you changed? Why?

As a teacher I can see first-hand that we will not have enough people in the green sector in the near future. For years we did not have any youngsters working at our nursery, either. Now I’ve got a group of fifteen teenagers who come in on Saturdays, and no, they’re not even all students of horticulture, we’ve got one who wants to be a nurse, a carpenter, and even a hairdresser! I believe you need to let the youth experience work at a nursery, they need to know what it’s like, otherwise you’ll never be able to get good people in. There are many prejudices regarding the green sector. People think we’re working outside in the cold and rain all day, in the clay with mud up to our knees. Or people who say they do like ‘green’, but are afraid of bugs – most bugs are actually very good, you know!

With the nursery association in our region, TreePort, we started a campaign called ‘Groen; Zeker doen!' last summer. We interviewed and filmed fifteen young professionals who work in the green sector, and not just young growers, either. We want to show all aspects of the green sector, there is so much more than ‘just plants’, there is technology, automatization and mechanization, innovation, marketing, sales…These are all part of working ‘in green’ and only a few people realize that. That’s what we would like to change. We have got to get more young people interested in our sector.

Relating more directly to our nursery and business processes, there have been a few things that I have started improving, slowly. Relatively small things to which Dad’s first reaction usually is ‘nah, that’s no good’ but then we try it and it makes us work that bit more efficiently, like rearranging the hall where we prepare our orders. Afterwards Dad will admit, that actually, yes, it does work better this way. We have an MPSA+ certification already, and I’m working on getting an MPS-GAP quality certificate, so there will be an audit for that soon. Things that my parents may not have thought about in the past, but that do have to be in place, for the future.

schermafbeelding_2021-04-28_om_09.56.08.jpg (copy1)

What does the future hold?

I think there is still room to expand a bit, grow the business further. Dad used to say he didn’t want to expand, but he just walked in the room, and you heard him, now he says he does want to grow. At HAS University they taught me that stagnation means decline in a business like ours. So I’m glad that apparently Dad has changed his mind! I expect we’ll have many conversations about the future in the coming year, especially once my brother Ruud is home, too. My parents do already involve me in the bigger projects, for example we are looking to build a new warehouse, so going over the architect’s plans, we do that together. Mum and Dad built this business from scratch, so it is difficult for them to let things go, for Dad more so than for Mum. But with open communication and conversation, I’m sure we will work it out.

In future, I’d also like to keep our product range as attractive as possible. We have quite a few special, patented plants, varieties you cannot easily come by anywhere else. It might require looking over our current assortment and perhaps making some changes, like, we have 30 varieties of Pieris, do we need to keep all 30? We might be able to add something else, new and exciting. My biggest hope or dream is to create my very own plant variety and market it. That would be fantastic.

naar_boven.jpg (copy)
nl kaart (copy) foto5 (copy)

Generations: Ilse Jochems, 23, 2nd generation

NURSERY: Jochems-Van Opstal, the Netherlands

We still have plenty of things to figure out, like how the workload will be divided. 

".jpg (copy2)
kruis-zwart.png (copy1)
foto5 (copy)
".jpg (copy2)

We still have plenty of things to figure out, like how the workload will be divided. 

nl kaart (copy)

NURSERY: Jochems-Van Opstal, the Netherlands

Generations: Ilse Jochems, 23, 2nd generation

About us

My name is Ilse Jochems, I’m 23 years old. I studied at HAS University of Applied Sciences and after I finished my studies I joined my family’s tree nursery, so I now work here and part-time I teach in pre-vocational education (VMBO), so I teach students aged between 12 and 16 about the green sector. 

The nursery here is 10 ha container nursery stock, mainly Pieris, Hebe, conifers, and grasses. A wide range of varieties. Then my uncle owns a nursery in a village nearby and our two nurseries together have a trading company called About Plants Zundert b.v.. About Plants Zundert b.v. trades our products and those of other nurseries from the area, which allows us to guarantee day trade and increases our product range even more. Most of our customers are garden centers and landscapers, in the Netherlands and abroad.

undefined

Why did you decide to go into the family business?

I think I’ve always liked the nursery. Since a very young age, I’ve spent time on the nursery when I was at home after school or during holidays, building huts from crates in the greenhouse. At 13-14 I started helping out on Saturdays and in school holidays. About halfway through my secondary school I had my mind made up that I was going to study horticulture & arable farming, so that’s when I really chose plants. Until my very last semester at HAS University I was set to go straight into the family business after I finished my studies, but then there was this email that caught my eye, about the opportunity to become a teacher, which really appealed to me. Now that I am a part-time teacher, I really love it, getting kids passionate about green subjects, like plant propagation, landscaping, becoming a florist, and plants in general, but I could never do this full-time…I’m glad I can do half-half. And eventually my plan is to be fully committed to the nursery and stop teaching at school, that’s what I really want. But it’s good to gain the experience, working for another employer, meeting new people and learning new things. It also doesn’t mean I will stop teaching completely. Hopefully I will be teaching in my own classroom at our tree nursery in future, to my own students of all different ages.

From next year (2022) I’ll do a maximum of 2.5 days per week of teaching and the rest I’ll be working at home in the nursery. My younger brother is coming home too, he is currently a landscaper, but he and I will be running the nursery together in future. We still have plenty of things to figure out, like how the workload will be divided. He’s definitely not an indoor type, though, so it might well be that some of the office business will automatically fall onto me, but we will see. With my knowledge, I could also run the plant production side of things, I find it very interesting, too. But realistically, watching how mum and dad currently run the business, it is too much for one person to run the production and finances and sales and everything else. So we will divide it between us.

schermafbeelding_2021-04-28_om_09.56.08.jpg (copy)

What was the
first thing you changed? Why?

As a teacher I can see first-hand that we will not have enough people in the green sector in the near future. For years we did not have any youngsters working at our nursery, either. Now I’ve got a group of fifteen teenagers who come in on Saturdays, and no, they’re not even all students of horticulture, we’ve got one who wants to be a nurse, a carpenter, and even a hairdresser! I believe you need to let the youth experience work at a nursery, they need to know what it’s like, otherwise you’ll never be able to get good people in. There are many prejudices regarding the green sector. People think we’re working outside in the cold and rain all day, in the clay with mud up to our knees. Or people who say they do like ‘green’, but are afraid of bugs – most bugs are actually very good, you know!

With the nursery association in our region, TreePort, we started a campaign called ‘Groen; Zeker doen!' last summer. We interviewed and filmed fifteen young professionals who work in the green sector, and not just young growers, either. We want to show all aspects of the green sector, there is so much more than ‘just plants’, there is technology, automatization and mechanization, innovation, marketing, sales…These are all part of working ‘in green’ and only a few people realize that. That’s what we would like to change. We have got to get more young people interested in our sector.

Relating more directly to our nursery and business processes, there have been a few things that I have started improving, slowly. Relatively small things to which Dad’s first reaction usually is ‘nah, that’s no good’ but then we try it and it makes us work that bit more efficiently, like rearranging the hall where we prepare our orders. Afterwards Dad will admit, that actually, yes, it does work better this way. We have an MPSA+ certification already, and I’m working on getting an MPS-GAP quality certificate, so there will be an audit for that soon. Things that my parents may not have thought about in the past, but that do have to be in place, for the future.

What does the future hold?

schermafbeelding_2021-04-28_om_09.56.08.jpg (copy1)

I think there is still room to expand a bit, grow the business further. Dad used to say he didn’t want to expand, but he just walked in the room, and you heard him, now he says he does want to grow. At HAS University they taught me that stagnation means decline in a business like ours. So I’m glad that apparently Dad has changed his mind! I expect we’ll have many conversations about the future in the coming year, especially once my brother Ruud is home, too. My parents do already involve me in the bigger projects, for example we are looking to build a new warehouse, so going over the architect’s plans, we do that together. Mum and Dad built this business from scratch, so it is difficult for them to let things go, for Dad more so than for Mum. But with open communication and conversation, I’m sure we will work it out.

In future, I’d also like to keep our product range as attractive as possible. We have quite a few special, patented plants, varieties you cannot easily come by anywhere else. It might require looking over our current assortment and perhaps making some changes, like, we have 30 varieties of Pieris, do we need to keep all 30? We might be able to add something else, new and exciting. My biggest hope or dream is to create my very own plant variety and market it. That would be fantastic.

naar_boven.jpg (copy)
naar_boven.jpg (copy2)

About The Green Times

ICL takes you behind the scenes of ornamental horticulture in The Green Times magazine. New developments, insights and impactful stories about and for professional growers around the world.
Fullscreen