Agro Care was founded in 1997 by Philip van Antwerpen and Kees van Veen, two people who met at university. Ever since Agro Care was founded, Philip and Kees have demonstrated that not everything in this sector always has to be matter-of-course.
Despite a great deal of negative advice, Agro Care’s first 8 hectares of land were bought in the province of Zeeland in 1997: in Rilland, directly on the Eastern Scheldt tidal basin. In those days, 8 hectares was considered a huge plot of land for greenhouse horticulture. Also, hardly any other horticulture firms had established themselves here at that time. Many people eyed the project with scepticism.
Years later, Agro Care is still an unusual company in the greenhouse horticulture sector. Various partnerships and equity investments have made Agro Care one of the largest innovative players within the global greenhouse horticulture industry. The company is still growing steadily, in a sustainable and responsible manner.
In 2001 Agro Care decided to transfer a portion of its crops to a location with a better climate for growing tomatoes in winter. The criteria that were examined during the search included access routes to the Netherlands, hours of sunshine, and the availability of gas and sufficient water. With regard to the latter, it was also essential that the farm’s water consumption would not compromise the local population’s access to drinking water.
The search led Agro Care to the south-eastern part of Tunisia, where the ideal spot was found for Agro Care to take the next steps in its development: in the vicinity of the coastal town of Gabes, near El Hamma. The first 2.5 hectares of the modern Desert Joy tomato farm were built in 2013.
Agro Care 2016
In addition to sheds, energy facilities and cisterns, the current acreage of Agro Care comprises 57 hectares in Wieringermeer, 24 hectares in Rilland and 10 hectares in Tunisia. Nine different tomato varieties, intended primarily for northern European supermarkets and exporters, are currently being grown at these locations.
The management of Agro Care has since evolved into a team of five people, with Bas Eilander as Director of Operations in Wieringermeer, Nic van Roosmalen as Director of Operations in Rilland and Marco Zuidgeest as the company’s Chief Financial Officer.