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    Blog #15 Holly from Aalsmeer

    Within our sector, a charming commerce can be found. It is a very specific kind of business, one that is truly distinctive. Last Friday, I got on a boat trip with my dog Django and payed a visit to the family Buys in Aalsmeer. I have crossed paths with Karlo and his Leon before, while sailing in between the scenic fields of Aalsmeer. The gentlemen are always working hard on their fields with holly and barely have the time to wave back.

    Karlo and Leon Buys cultivate different species of holly on their 4 hectares. One of their showpieces is the holly verticillate ´Britt´, named after daughter Britt. This cultivar is a mutant, which Karlo created from another cultivar. This cultivar is known for its side branches, which grow short on the main branch, and carry a lot of berries.

    The holly requires a very intensive cultivation method. It is a biennial plant that has to be harvested in three months (October, November and December). Every year, Karlo, his wife and Leon experience a race against the clock to cut the hollies before the birds feast on the appetizing berries. Therefore, there is little time left to work on something like ‘advertising’. Luckily, this has not been necessary until now. The largest part of the harvest is sold directly to the consumer and the prices are good. A large part of the harvest goes straight to China.

    The holly grows on fields located in the bodies of water of Aalsmeer. During the first year, the growth of the shrub is important. The second year, branches the berries grow on develop. The growth of these branches is delayed to get the ideal shape. After that, Karlo and Leon attach the shrubs to ten branches and cut away the remaining branches. This prevents the branches to overshadow each other and the sunlight will reach all branches.


    During the boat trip, I thought I had seen orange holly species before. Karlo told me he cultivates them behind the house, but not on the fields. He explains to me the berries are still orange because the previous winter and the spring were cold. The berries are not yet ripe.

    Bees are extremely important for pollination. This determines the amount of berries on the branches. Karlo has got two bee populations. He hires six more when the shrubs are in bloom.

    After the harvest the branches are covered beneath plastic to increase the temperature so the shrub drops its leaves. If the leaves stay attached, the moisture from the stems is drawn and the berries fall off. The branches are sorted based on length and uniformity. The stems covered in berries fit perfectly in the boxes for plane transportation, and this beautiful product from Aalsmeer can get distributed around the world.

    It was wonderful meeting these hardworking people who are performing their craft, our craft. The sector should be proud on this piece of craftmanship: a distinctive commerce supplied from the fields close to the Kleine Poel, in proximity to our auction.


    Jan de Boer, Aalsmeer, 19 October 2021



    Legmeerdijk 313
    1431 GB Aalsmeer
    Tel.: +31 (0)297 386 116
    The Netherlands

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