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Corekees

VISITING COREKEES’ TREES: A BRIEF REPORT OF MY VISIT TO THE REFORESTATION SITE

One of Corekees early tree-investors, visited the Reforestation Site earlier this year. He wrote a small report about what he encountered:

“When I visited ‘Santa Rosanna’ (= the reforestation site’s farm name), the wet season had just come to an end. The fields where Corekees’ trees are planted, are about five kilometers from the main farm. The 4×4-jeeps get stuck in the mud this time of year, so we visited the young trees on horseback. This was not an issue; along the way we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings with birds like the Tucano. Even the eight dogs that were accompanying us, were enjoying themselves.

When we arrived at the Corekees plot, we saw many young trees. Each row housed about a hundred trees, neatly planted next to a ‘tutor’ (supportive sticks). Between the trees, shallow trenches full of water were dug and connected to a natural irrigation system. The trees were still relatively small, but full of green leaves. The upcoming dry period laid ahead for them, after which they going to keep growing. During our tour, we saw the local laborers removing weeds and maintaining the fields. On our way back, we even ran into a small alligator sleeping in the water.

Back at the main farm, we visited the fifth of five greenhouses. They were reconstructing it to prepare the greenhouse for a new way of planting the young cuttings from the trees. These experiments indicate a vast increase of growth for the trees in their first months.

After we took the saddles from the horses and brushed them down, it was time for lunch.”

– Anonymous Tree Investor –

AUGUST 2019: OUR TREES

The wet season has just ended; the period where the trees grow the fastest. After the wet period – when it is generally hard to visit the trees except on horseback – the fields are maintained, the trenches checked and we can see how our green friends have coped with the wet season. Corekees’ trees are developing nicely; the first trees are already showing first signs of flowering. The next few months is the dry period, in which the tree’s growth will slightly slow down.

COREKEES CHRISTMAS TREE PROGRAM

The Corekees Foundation introduces the “Corekees Christmas Tree Program”. Gift your employees a piece of the future. Corekees’ CO2-compensating trees ensure a green and profitable future for any organizations employee.

Gift your employees trees and show you care about the future.

Ready to show you care? Christmas is the time. Get in touch for your tailor-made program: christmas@corekees.com | 020-2440311 | contact us

 

JULY 29TH – EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY 2019

Today, July the 29th of 2019, is Earth Overshoot Day. The Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we have used exactly the earth resources that our planet can renew in a 12-months period. In 2018, it fell on August 1. In a single year; the earth resource production capacity has been reduced with two days…

We are using 1.7 Earths a year.

We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate due to overfishing, overharvesting, deforestation, and emitting an increasing amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Do you know your personal CO2-footprint? Calculate your footprint here and check how many trees you would need to plant to become climate-neutral.

(🇳🇱) COREKEES HELPT BLOKKER TE BOUWEN AAN EEN DUURZAME TOEKOMST MET HAAR BOMEN

Corekees helpt Blokker te bouwen aan een duurzame toekomst met haar bomen:

“Het nieuwe Blokker: een boom voor iedere winkel, de winkel voor iedereen. Blokker Holding plant 700 bomen bij Stichting Corekees; één voor ieder filiaal.

De Blokkerbomen zijn onderdeel van onze ontwikkeling, waarbij klimaatbewustzijn een belangrijk aspect is. Blokker reduceert met de bomen de CO2-voetafdruk van het gebruik van onze producten en de bedrijfsvoering. Het toekomstbestendige Blokker begint vandaag (link)”

Uw organisatie ook toekomstbestendig? Neem contact met ons op.

COREKEES SUMMER/FALL INTERNSHIP 2019

– English version below

GEZOCHT: DOORTASTEND MARKETING/SALES TALENT VOOR MEELOOP/AFSTUDEERSTAGE BIJ SNELGROEIENDE START-UP IN DUURZAME ENERGIE

Werk je graag zelfstandig, bezit je doorzettingsvermogen, creatief denkvermogen en houd je van innovatie en vernieuwing? Corekees is op zoek naar stagiaires die verantwoordelijkheid aankunnen, mee willen denken en zijn/haar eigen gewicht kunnen dragen.
Corekees is een jong bedrijf dat (Pongamia)bomen in de markt zet. Aan deze boom groeien noten, waaruit ruwe olie geperst wordt als basis voor groene brandstof; een direct alternatief van fossiele brandstof.

Ben jij in staat een marketingstrategie te bedenken en uit te voeren? Vind je het mooi om doelgroepen te identificeren en benaderen? Word je enthousiast van (social) media, content, contact met partners, journalisten en grote bedrijven? Solliciteer dan op een van de stageplekken bij Corekees.

Kernwoorden: marketing, social media, sales ondernemersdrang, innovatie, energie, zelfstandig, groei, strategie, content, tafeltennis.

– 16 tot 40 uur per week
– Inclusief Stagevergoeding
– Centrum Rotterdam (Groot Handelsgebouw)
– Startdatum in periode juni – september ‘19
– Duur: 10 tot 30 weken (in overleg)

CONTACT | info@corekees.com | 020-244 0311

 

WANTED: MARKETING/SALES INTERN FOR FAST-GROWING START-UP IN SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

Are you persistent, creative, innovative and able to work independently? Corekees is looking for interns who can handle responsibility, likes active participation and is self-sufficient.

Corekees is a young company that offers (Pongamia) trees to both consumers and corporates. These trees grow nuts, from which crude oil is crushed as the base for green, renewable fuel; a direct substitute to fossil fuels.

Do you want to develop and execute a marketing strategy? Are you eager and able to identify & approach target audiences? Do you have affinity with (social) media, content, relations with partners, journalists and large companies? Apply for an internship at Corekees.

Keywords: marketing, social media, sales, entrepreneurial drive, design, innovation, creativity, energy, independence, growth, strategy, content, table tennis.

  • 16 to 40 hours a week
  • Internship allowance included
  • City center or Rotterdam (Groot Handelsgebouw)
  • Start date: between June and September ‘19
  • Period: 10 to 30 weeks (by mutual consent)

CONTACT | info@corekees.com | 020-244 0311

TREETALKS | JUST LET ME FARM

Interview 2 of 2 with Pongamia entrepreneur Marcel van Heesewijk

Read the first part of the interview with Marcel here.

– By Kees Rottinghuis 

Marcel van Heesewijk is one of the biggest Pongamia entrepreneurs in the world. He was the inspiration for his niece and nephew to start their own company; The Corekees Foundation. He has dedicated his life to the CO2 absorbing and oil-producing Pongamia tree, which we at Corekees also use. His story is unusual as it is adventurous. This is the second part of our two-part Treetalks with Marcel.

In part 1 , Marcel explained how he got into the Pongamia business and how he built his own farm pretty much in the middle of nowhere. That was a good start, but to master the tree production process Marcel had to learn a lot. Nobody had attempted something like this with Pongamia on the scale Marcel has in mind.

 

TREE FACTORY

“Getting the whole process of growing the trees was trial and error. There are a lot of factors to take into account. The soil, the amount of nutrition, temperatures, amount of water, how thick the misting is, duration of misting. It is about finding a balance between lots of different elements. For example, we first took plantlets from the test plantations and brought them to our nursery by truck, but that took too long. Our survival rate was too low. So, we built a landing strip and started using planes to fly them down to our farm.”

During one of these flights all seats except the pilots were taken out, so the plane could hold more trees. Marcel was sitting on the branches and out of the leaves walked a scorpion. “If you just sit still, it won’t do anything.” So, he sat next to the scorpion for another hour.

Because industrializing Pongamia on this scale was entirely new, Marcel understood he had to learn. So, he went all over the world to learn, where it came in handy that he fluently speaks six languages.

 

“So, he sat next to the scorpion for another hour”

 

“We looked at how others did it with other tree species, mainly eucalypt. We visited their nurseries, which were capable of producing from 1 to 30 million trees per year. That was the type of production capacity we were aiming for. After that we went to greenhouse producers and selected one. Parts of it did work, parts of it didn’t. We made our own versions of it, because we had to adapt it to Pongamia. When we were comfortable with that, we built our five greenhouses. Today we have the largest Pongamia production capacity in the world, capable of producing and planting over a million trees per year. For that you need a high survival rate. We aim for at least 80%.” That has worked. The survival rate has jumped from a mere 15% to 84% now.

 

“Today we have the largest Pongamia production capacity in the world”

 

Getting not only the whole process exactly right but also building everything from scratch was quite the task. Asked if he ever had doubts Marcel answers frank; “There have been a lot of those moments; What the hell am I doing? On an open boat in the cold, or heat, and the rain. To clean the land and to build the farm we already found 40 snakes, just for the first part. It was very rough; there is nothing there.” Still he ploughed on, but there is one thing he finds very frustrating and difficult.

 

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW

“It is very hard to convince the outside world that we need to do something about climate change. People don’t realize how urgent this is. We can go much, much faster. If I see the amounts of money we are pouring into things like flying taxis. What kind of crap is that? We know that we cannot have flying taxis! We know we don’t have the energy resources. So why pour money in stuff we don’t need and know we cannot afford. It is not moneywise we cannot afford it, it’s resource wise. We know we are going to 9 billion people in the world and everybody has the right to basic stuff, but we cannot have flying taxis. The lack is resources, not money.” Marcel clearly gets worked up about it. He especially hates it when people are enthusiastic but want to join his project in a few years. “We don’t want to deal with those people, no delaying. We need action now!”

 

“We don’t want to deal with those people. We need action now!”

 

“We have deforested the whole of Europe and we are now telling people in Malaysia and South America, you cannot deforest. If they want to chop, they can, they are in their own country and we did the same thing. Who are we to prohibit them? We need to make sure leaving a tree in the ground is financially more interesting than chopping it. That is the only way to solve it. We have to make an economic system where it is more beneficial to leave a forest standing than cutting it down.”

“My disappointment is in the other side that are supposed to do it but are not doing their job, like development and green financing bodies. They are the worst to act. The older generation should feel responsible for this, especially those with the financial resources to do it.”

Yet Marcel is positive and just wants to work on perfecting his trees for reforestation. “It’s very refreshing to see how the next generation is picking this up much quicker. It’s really proof that a group can make it happen if they really want to. I just want to be an initiator and enabler for those people to make it all happen. The rest should take care of the financing and marketing, like Corekees. Just let me farm.”

Read the first part of the interview with Marcel here.

Out in the fields

TREETALKS | BACK TO THE ROOTS

Interview 1 of 2 with Pongamia entrepreneur Marcel van Heesewijk.

Read the second part of the interview with Marcel here.

– By Kees Rottinghuis

Marcel van Heesewijk is one of the major Pongamia entrepreneurs in the world. He was the inspiration for his niece and nephew to start their own company; The Corekees Foundation. Marcel dedicated his life to the CO2-absorbing and oil-producing Pongamia tree, which we at Corekees also use. His story is unusual as it is adventurous. This is the first part of our two-part Treetalks with Marcel.

Marcel was born in Brazil. Although both his parents were Dutch, he didn’t speak the language or saw the country until he was six. “The first time I came to the Netherlands was by boat in Rotterdam on a misty cold December day.”

After studying Economics in Groningen and doing an MBA in Paris Marcel’s affinity for tech led him into software. He started working at Siemens, but he always wanted to do his own thing. So, he set up his own company; SourcingLink. “We had developed a nice software application for retailers and brought the company to the US stock market. We raised quite a bit of money.” He’s quite modest; the company was valuated at 300 million US dollars. One of the biggest retailers in the world and his biggest client breached the contract with Marcel. A legal battle followed. “We won, but it was already too late.” Marcel jokingly tells he then sold what was left of the company.

 

“We won, but it was already too late”

 

This attitude ensured that Marcel was already looking forward and planning his next venture. “The time to start up in hi-tech, with little to no capital, was gone. When I started that was still feasible but not anymore. So, I wanted to shift away from tech to land. I saw land, mainly agricultural land, as the next scarce resource and South America has a lot of it.” In essence, he was going back to his roots.

Marcel was preparing the ground for a different agricultural project when he met someone on an agricultural conference who was working with the Pongamia pinnata tree, which produces biodiesel and protein while also absorbing a lot of CO2. “He was working with this new energy crop on non-food land. It was very practical, he had a few pods and showed them to me. He connected the dots of the peak of fossil fuels and the use of non-food land. The concept as a whole came together quickly. You have a whole list of stuff you then want to crosscheck against all the opportunities you see.”

South America was the perfect fit. “It is the best place in the world where you can reach scalability in a professional manner. It has enormous land availability and a very professional agriculture. That’s how the idea started off.”

The Chaco, a region in the North of Paraguay, was best situated, so he went scouting. First, he went to a Paraguayan contact, Rodrigo, and told him about the project. Rodrigo thought he was crazy: “How can you do something like that in the Chaco, there is only cattle, and nothing grows, it’s very hostile.” Yet he still helped Marcel to find his way around the Chaco.

“So, with Rodrigo’s help we went through the Chaco. But you cannot just go there, there are no paved roads, you have to wait until there is not too much rain. And there are no hotels there, so you need an estancia (farm in Spanish, red.) that is willing to house you. We made a weeklong program. We did 3000 kilometres over sand roads, took soil samples and looked at different vegetations.”

 

THE FIRST DISASTER

Potential areas for Pongamia sites were identified and test areas were made. “We needed a tree nursery in Paraguay and were able to use the nursery of the University in Asunción. That was our first disaster.” Marcel laughs, “Everybody went on holiday and nobody watered our plants. So straightaway we lost half of our trees.”

 

“So straightaway we lost half of our trees”

 

That didn’t hold him back a bit and he continued his test sites, whilst also searching for own land to build a nursery. “We wanted land that had access to a natural source of water, because for a tree factory you need a lot of water. You also need to stay easily accessible; there are farms in the Chaco that are unreachable for six months per year. So, we decided early to be next to the river.”

He and Fredy, his current reforestation site manager, were driving around searching for the right spot. “In the beginning we were looking in the North. As we went there, there was an earlier road going to the river and I said to Fredy: ‘Let’s go to the river here’. He had never been there. We went another 70 km to the river and took a little river taxi and just looked around.” There they found what they were looking for, next to the Rio Paraguay, close to the town of Porto Murtinho, with high riverbanks.

“But that was the easy part. There was nothing there. We had to build everything from the ground up. We rented a boat and went there every day. We didn’t even know how far back our land went at the beginning. We couldn’t get through. A neighbour lent us his horses so we could look around. We went waist deep through the mud and water. Every stone that is there had to be brought in by boat from Brazil. We built the farmhouse, the greenhouses, everything.”

All the hard work and setbacks never seem to affect Marcel. Not losing his $300 million US-dollar company, losing half his plants or simply being miserably soaked and cold in the middle of nowhere. It’s his inexhaustible drive that keeps propelling him forward and makes him successful. But after building his own farm, he still had to work out how to become the biggest Pongamia producer in the world. You can read more about that and his drive and frustrations around climate change in our next interview with him.

Read the second part of the interview with Marcel here.

Checking the greenhouse