Many innovative additions to the company’s operation and the greenhouse industry have been a product of that philosophy.An invention by Aart Van Wingerden that may have had the greatest impact on the industry is the Winstrip,™ a patented, containerized system for growing young plants, or plugs, for later transplanting. In the design of typical trays, too much emphasis had been placed on nurturing the top of the plant. Winstrip was designed to benefit the roots of the plant.
The structure of the Winstrip optimizes vertical airflow and root- ball aeration and prevents the root curling that occurs in a typical plug tray.
This new growing method proved successful and greatly benefitedDouble Harvest Inc., an nonprofit organization that operations agricultural programs in a number of developing nations. “We all share the pleasures of this earth; we must share the burdens as well,” Aart emphasized. Double Harvest currently operates in Haiti, Ethiopia, and Sudan. The focus of the program is long-term; the goal: self-sufficiency.
“We feel that our fellow man is never really helped through handouts, for handouts are a temporary solution and avoid the reasons for the needs. Our goal is to provide people with the knowledge and skills to enhance agricultural techniques that will allow them to improve their conditions through their own efforts and thus achieve self-sufficiency, a sense of dignity and hope for the future,” Mr. Van Wingerden explained.
With the help, support, and efforts of Double Harvest staff and those foreign nationals who have worked with Double Harvest, great strides have been made, he noted. In many cases, difficult growing conditions have been overcome through hard work and the use of several modern methods. Drip irrigation produces a slow, steady water supply to crops, utilizing a minimum amount of water, and reforestation helps renew the land and prevent erosion.
All Double Harvest programs are designed to demonstrate that agriculture can indeed be a profitable venture. “People already know how to lose money; we don’t need to teach them that. Our goal is to teach them to make money and, consequently, to be more independent.”
Double Harvest itself retains no profits; earnings are used to improve the operation, support Christian schools, build and support medical clinics and assist farmers in establishing their own operations. “In the process,” Mr. Van Wingerden pointed out, “new jobs are created, more goods become available for the marketplace, and, ultimately, the general economy of the nation in which we are working is improved.”
Aart said that he and Cornelia enjoy being able to share the knowledge of their industry in such a beneficial way. “We enjoy helping others learn and learning more ourselves. We give plants the food and shelter they need; we try to do the same for other people. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about this business – being able to give. I love creating the beauty, always finding a better way to create beauty; I also like making the money and being able to spend it on worthwhile projects.”
“You seach the world,” he challenged, “And if you find someone who enjoys their life more than I do, let me know. I’d like to meet them.”
Thank you, Mr. Van Wingerden, for the legacy you left to your family, our company, and the greenhouse industry.