XpBonaire IslandLife Feature Story
The Department of Rural Development has determined that agricultural development is a pressing need for the healthy, economic future of Bonaire. Agriculture on Bonaire has always been severely limited due to the island’s dry climate, unpredictable rainy season and unstable water resources in most of the island’s agricultural locations. As a result, each year more than 95% of the food needed to feed both locals and visitors is imported. The demand for locally grown, fresh greens is big and the stable production of fresh produce on the island would raise the quality of our food and make the island less dependent on imports.
Arie Boers, the founder and owner of Bon Tera, has taken it upon himself to be one of the pioneers in the cultivation of local vegetables on Bonaire. Arie grew up in the European Netherlands in a family who owned their own vegetable growing business and later owned flower nurseries. Arie first came to Bonaire in 2011, for a 5 month internship in horticulture. During that time he was to assist Krusada in creating a plan for vegetable cultivation. Since both the facilities and circumstances on the island are not very favorable, creating stable production comes with many challenges. Feasibility studies were needed to make the pilot shade house project at Krusada a success.
Arie went back to the Netherlands and successfully completed his studies. He then returned to Bonaire in 2014, this time to work at Krusada and develop his research plan into a more sustainable plan to make vegetable production interesting for the Foundation and to make this an inspiring example of the island’s agriculture plans for more economic independence by diversifying the market. They succeeded and filled the shade houses 95% of the time, producing basil, spinach, mint and arugula.
Arie once again returned to the Netherlands with his wife, Tessa, whom he met while at Krusada in 2014, but Bonaire was always in the back of their minds. Life in a warm climate, in the open air and developing something new was so much more attractive than busy, city life in the Netherlands. When Tessa was given the opportunity to return to her previous position on Bonaire and there was also the possibility of buying a company that already had rental land from the government, Arie and Tessa took a chance and returned to Bonaire in 2018. First to get all the permits to build a house for the family and to start building the shade houses for vegetable cultivation.
Arie began building these in September 2018, with his longtime friend and colleague, Adrian Goedegebuure, along with many other friends and family members who helped with building the greenhouses. Adrian and Arie first met each other during their work at Krusada where they worked well together as colleagues. Since that time, their paths kept crossing which made them decide to work together again at Bon Tera.
Since end of 2018, when produce became available, Bon Tera has made a name for itself as an excellent local producer. You can buy their vegetables and herbs at the local supermarkets, Warehouse and Van den Tweel. Bon Tera is growing long beans, cucumbers, basil, cherry tomatoes, mixed greens and mint. They continue to try out new things and assess their potential to become part of the continuous assortment at Bon Tera.
Research into growing a larger variety of plants successfully in this climate makes it exciting for the two and they work continuously to expand their production and research the potential for new herbs, vegetables and fruit trees which restaurants and local buyers like to eat.
Currently you can find their products in the supermarket and you can visit Bon Tera on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2 – 5 pm, when you can buy fresh produce on location. You can follow them on Facebook and check for availability and sometimes special offers. Many of the restaurants on the island are already customers. You should try it and taste the difference a fresh, locally produced product makes.
Phone: +599 700 3497
Market on Location: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 pm – 5 pm
Address: Plantage Aruba 40
Facebook: Bon Tera