Gova B.V. is a real family business. It was founded in 1931 by Charles Goossens Senior as a fruit and vegetable nursery. Grandpa was the first to supply strawberries in aluminium trays at the Tilburg auction. So innovation has always been a part of the ‘Goossens DNA’.
In 1967, Harry Goossens took over the company, together with his wife Nelly van Aert. They transformed the business into a potted plant nursery of ficus, dieffenbachias and kentia palms. Under Nelly’s leadership, a large garden centre was built that became renowned in the area for its coffee corner (an innovation in the 1970s) and well-attended open days. Here’s a clip from 1974 showing the hustle and bustle in the garden centre at that time.
Bay tree nursery
The cultivation of bay trees started in 1979. This quickly expanded into a large, laborious crop, with Harry developing concrete blocks so that the plants did not blow over in the growing fields in the summer.
Charl studied horticulture at college and joined the company in 1987. Jack did business administration at Erasmus University and first worked at Rabobank for 3 years. In 1998, the brothers took over the company. Gova is now fully specialized in Laurus nobilis, and has developed automatic pruners and sprayers. The cultivation has been certified food-safe, and on the social level, Gova has switched from using temporary foreign workers to local people who face additional challenges in the labour market.
Waste not, want not
Gova is now in the hands of the third generation, which is just as innovative as the two before it. For example, we are trying to make our production process as circular as possible. As part of this, we wondered if it would be possible to find new uses for our waste streams. That is why we created VARTA, a laboratory to generate value from the residual flows from the nursery.
VARTA, which stands for ‘Valorisatielab Reststromen Tuin- en Akkerbouw’ (Valorization Lab for Waste Streams from Horticulture and Arable Farming), became an independent company in 2021. The vast majority of Gova’s residual streams are now used as the basis for new products. VARTA has also developed solutions for other companies, and there’s more in the pipeline…