January is usually quiet for Jeroen van Vliet of Flexotels in the Netherlands. However, this year, there are many upcoming projects. Flexotels provides sleeping accommodation for different sectors, including the fruit sector. This year, the company's also focusing on supplying these flexible living units to asparagus growers. And in the soft fruit sector. These farmers will, again, have to dependent on workers in the fields in the coming season. Many of these little homes are currently booked up far in advance.
These tiny houses will be seen at asparagus and soft fruit farms this year too.
“The uncertainty about COVID-19 is the main reason why businesses are renting these housing units so far in advance," says Jeroen. "They hope this will ensure that their employees have somewhere to sleep. We have projects planned for March when we will set up units at asparagus growers. But we have some in August too. That's when apple and pear harvesting begins again."
An aerial view with Flexotels units in the foreground.
In the autumn of 2020, Flexotels units could be found on about 60 Dutch fruit farms. "We began with this three years ago. We noticed a rising demand for accommodation on growers' sites. Our main market remains the events sector. But we also saw opportunities in the fruit and vegetable sector. In retrospect, that was lucky. The coronavirus has put festivals on hold for a while. But farmers keep farming. The advantage is an increased demand for living space on these farms."
Mattresses, bedding, and pillows are included.
Jeroen says the units' flexibility appeals to his clients. "We're, naturally, used to quickly delivering and setting up these units for festivals. That's usually for a long weekend. The fruit growers keep them for longer. At the client's request, we deliver and assemble the units. We also provide bedding, mattresses, and pillows. We can connect them to the electricity grid, and if necessary, water and drainage. Once the harvest's done, the workers go home. We then collect the units. They are checked and cleaned and can go on to the next client."
A different model.
These compact homes have two separate rooms. But Jeroen says there's a rising demand for larger spaces. "You can link our units together. So, fortunately, we can respond flexibly to that and can automatically develop larger areas. To this end, we're working on developing certain facilities like separate kitchen units," he concludes.