“We already have a very good reputation for our flowers,” he said. “This is just an exclamation point on what we were already doing.”
Dobbe is founder/owner, president and CEO of Holland America Flowers, which grows flowers in Woodland, Washington, and Arroyo Grande, California. It specializes in lilies, tulips, freesias, snapdragons, peonies and a variety of miscellaneous flowers and greens. It employs 120 people full-time and about 75 part-timers during the tulip season in Washington.
Owner Benno Dobbe on his BloomCheck certified farm. Photo courtesy of Holland America Flowers.
Like all flower growers seeking BloomCheck certification, Holland America underwent a rigorous-third party audit to ensure it is using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality, wildlife protection and social impacts on workers and the community. That means efficient energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and taking care of employees. Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure growers are meeting the standards.
“The audit is quite comprehensive,” Dobbe said. “It’s not something you can do overnight.”
Dobbe gives credit to his son Ben, the company’s COO and senior sales executive, for leading the certification effort.
Benno Dobbe with his son, Ben, who managed the certification process. Photo courtesy of Holland America Flowers.
“Ben and our Holland America team cooperated in every way they should,” he said. “There were some minor things that needed to be addressed but everything was on the up and up.”
BloomCheck is another milestone for the company that got its start in 1980 when Benno emigrated from the Netherlands along with his wife, Klazina, and their children. They started a cut flower farm in Woodland and added the operation in Arroyo Grande in 1986.
The two operations give the company “a one-two punch,” Dobbe said, and allow it to specialize in seasonal flowers that flourish in the Northwest while growing year-round in California.
His children, Ben and Nicolette, are the fourth generation to carry on the family tradition as flower growers.