Supplying Pinguin Spinach Family Affair for Koen and Mieke
Westrozebeke, Belgium-headquartered Pinguin Foods, a member of the Greenyard Foods Group and Europe’s second biggest producer of frozen vegetables, has updated and enhanced its website (www.pinguinfoods.com) with additional of news, features and other useful information creatively presented to readers. Recently posted was the story of Koen and Mieke, two motivated farmers who grow vegetables for Pinguin every year. As the end of March approached, they were busy as usual sowing the seeds of spring spinach.
The secret to growing the tasty green leaf vegetable lies in selecting the right location and knowing the right timing for planting and harvesting. Spinach flourishes in well-drained soil with a good amount of humus and carbon, and is best planted in early spring. The leaves are then ready to harvest from May to early June.
“The Diksmuide area has the perfect soil in which to grow spinach,” said Koen, who along with his wife Mieke took over his father’s farm in Esen, near Diksmuide, Belgium, over ten years ago. They grow spinach, peas, beans, carrots and cauliflower.
“The quality of spring spinach is simply excellent: fine stalks and juicy, young leaves which are ideal to be processed into leaf spinach,” said Koen. “As soon as the weather is right, we discuss with Pinguin when we can best start sowing. While the crop is growing, Pinguin’s agronomist regularly inspects the spinach in the field, logging every single detail on the relevant land parcel index card.”
As soon as Koen and Mieke have harvested the crop, it is immediately transported to Pinguin’s closest plant, which is situated just 15 kilometers from the farm. In this way, the time between harvesting and processing is kept to a minimum.
Spinach arriving from the fields is carefully checked, cleaned and washed before being blanched, sized into portions and frozen to the core. “We can really claim that our spinach is frozen within four hours after harvesting, so that all the natural goodness, vitamins and minerals are locked in,” said Koen.
Everything that the husband and wife team do is testament to their passion for their job.
“My father was a farmer and I’ve always known that I’d follow him in working the soil to feed people. Farming is simply in our DNA. I loved growing up on the farm, wandering through the fields and driving the tractor. It is hard work, of course, but I have flexible working hours. That’s important to me. I work to the rhythm of nature and, most importantly, am out in the open air, day in and day out.”