BijkerkVille Trees showroom matures

KINBURN – Trees take their time, but West Carleton growers Eric and Nicole Bijkerk’s first plant have finally reached the age when they are ready for their forever homes.

Motorists along Kinburn Side Road get a beautiful view of BijkerkVille Trees’ showroom, hundreds of trees planted in rows planted on Eric and Nicole’s front yard.

The couple started BijkerkVille Trees about seven years ago, but this spring feels like the true launch of their new business. The business grows trees for five to seven years before putting them on the market. This ensures survivability and allows customers to pick their trees based on their caliper, shape and height.

“So last year was the first year we could actually start selling anything,” Eric said.

Eric is originally from the Netherlands, Nicole was living in Cape Breton, when they met in Newfoundland. Eric is an engineer for Siemen’s and was transferred to a plant in Ancaster, ON. The plant closed, Eric was able to keep his job and the couple moved to West Carleton in 2012.

“In Holland, if you had one acre, you have a lot of space,” he told West Carleton Online from the Bijkerk kitchen Feb. 13. “What are we going to do with 50 acres? You have to make the area sustainable. You want the land to pay for itself. So, that’s where the tree farm idea came from.”

Eric says he spends about seven months away from home a year for his work as an engineer. They thought the tree farm would be a reasonable part-time job to take on.

“But it’s a little more work than we anticipated,” he said. “It’s 24/7 if you want to do it right.”

The couple wanted to provide trees to customers that had established themselves. That had survived the riskier seedling stage and were beginning to take shape, giving the consumer an idea of what the tree might look like as it continues to grow as well as the confidence their new tree was going to survive and thrive after being planted on site.

“Not greenhouse stock,” Eric said. “We buy seedlings from nurseries and grow them for five to seven years.”

BijkerkVille Trees offers about 17 species of trees and shrubs. Trees include Silver Maple, Canadian Red Maple, Red Oak, White Birch, White Cedar, White Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce, and Austrian Pine as well as Nanny Berry and Black Elderberry shrubs to name a few.

“Our biggest request is fruit trees, but this area is not really suited for that,” Eric said. “We want to sell locally so we only plant, Plant Hardiness Zones 4 and 5 trees. When it leaves here is its five-years-old with a much higher survivability.”

The Plant Hardiness Zones of Canada is a chart that outlines the success rate of plants, trees and shrubs based on the location of the country they are growing in.

“It’s going to have a 30-inch root ball therefore the shock is not too big when it’s replanted and it will thrive,” Eric said. “We try not to use too much fertilizer and do it the natural way. We make a compost tea.”

A compost tea is a mixture of nutrients and oxygen-loving (aerobic) bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other microbes that live in finished compost. The tea is a way to protect plants with a cover of beneficial microorganisms and feed the roots as an organic fertilizer.

“We’re not certified organic, but we use a lot of those practices,” Eric said. “We avoid chemicals. We do have an environmental farm plan.”

“It’s been a steep learning curve,” Nicole said. “Lots of study, lots of trial.”

With such a unique product, the Bijkerks have made sure they provide supporting services as well. Customers can come to their farm, look around and pick the tree they want, but “40 per cent of our customers don’t have the means to transport their new trees,” Eric said.

So, they help with that. They also provide a few products to give their trees the opportunity to thrive at their forever home.

They also sell tree tubes and coco mats. The Tree Pro Protector is a slit tube made out of 100 per cent recycled polyethylene which provides UV stabilization for five to seven years. The coco matts keep weeds at bay and helps retain water.

“It gives the trees a really excellent start,” Eric said. “It increases survivability by 80 per cent.”

While, the Bijkerks have enjoyed the process of building their tree farm and growing their product, they are happy to be starting the next phase of the business, selling trees.

“I do enjoy seeing a sapling grow over five years and driving around on the tractor and seeing the growth,” Eric said. “But now its time to sell trees. We have the cycle going now and we have to maintain the cycle. Instead of planting 2,000 trees a year we might plant 500 trees. Now we’re going to find out what the demand is.”

For more information on BijkerkVille Trees, visit their website or stop by.

“Reasonable prices for reasonable trees,” Eric said with a laugh. “We invite people to come to our place and have a look.”

The Warriors, parents, coaches, members of the Women's Institute, the DCA, sponsors and community members pose beside the freshly planted Canadian Red Maple last fall provided by BijkerkVille Trees. Photo by Jake Davies
The Warriors, parents, coaches, members of the Women’s Institute, the DCA, sponsors and community members pose beside the freshly planted Canadian Red Maple last fall provided by BijkerkVille Trees. Photo by Jake Davies