The Stemkens Lof BV concern run by Ed and Angelique Stemkens has a long and proud history. It was more than 40 years ago that Ed’s parents started up a chicory farm in Kessel-Eik in Limburg (NL). In the early years, chicory was only harvested during the winter months and was only grown in soil in the open air. However, 1985 saw a major innovation take place, as from that time onwards the chicory was no longer grown in soil but in hydrocultures.
The chicory taproots are placed in trays of water to which nutrients are added. These trays are then placed in a dark growing cell where the chicory head then starts growing on the taproot. This method allows you to grow chicory the whole year round.
Ed Stemkens joined his parents’ business in 1996 and quickly took over the running of it. The business has developed and grown further in recent years and has now expanded to become a modern farm with 50 acres of chicory cultivation. In 2013, the oldest sheds were replaced with brand new buildings, this step accompanied by a modest increase in production. There were also investments in a packing line and in weighing equipment. The 14 employees harvest and pack the chicory in flow packs.
The farm also embeds sustainability in its processes: the waste, roots and harvested leaves are collected by cattle farmers who then feed them to their cattle. As a result, residual waste has been almost completely eliminated, with the farm growing its crop using sustainable methods.