Ecoflora: ‘We do what the market demands’

More than 40 years ago, Frans van de Weijer travelled to Brazil with a backpack and an empty wallet. Nowadays, he and his three children run one of the largest nurseries in this immense South American country, Ecoflora. ‘We do what the market demands’, explains Frans’ son Patrick. “The current demand is for phalaenopsis, but it could be cannabis tomorrow.”

Back in 1978, vacancy ads in Het Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij gave 24-year old Frans van de Weijer two options: work at a nursery in Brazil or at a nursery in South Africa. He didn’t think much of the apartheid regime, so he opted for the South American country. With a backpack and an empty wallet, he moved to Brazil to follow his dream.

Van de Weijer had been working with tropical plants his entire life and he only wanted one thing: grow plants. When he was 12, he used some old glass panes and wood to build a 4×6-metre greenhouse, which he heated with a coal-burning stove. Where his love of plants originated? Son Patrick has no idea. “My grandfather was a doctor and my grandmother a nurse.”

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