News - April 10, 2020

The plants are doing fine

Roelof Kleis

How are the plants in my office doing? Fine. Thanks to the care of temporary flora caregivers such as Vera Wieleman and her team.

© Roelof Kleis

In light of the corona problems, it seems like a minor detail. But still, who is looking after the plants in WUR buildings now that there is almost no-one to water them? In Lumen, Gaia and Atlas the plants have nothing about which to complain. Vera Wieleman and her Facilities and Services support team have taken this task upon themselves.

Normally, she would be moving things, putting up whiteboards and doing general chores that are required. Facility support is actually a service-minded jack-of-all-trades. ‘Our tasks are extensive,’ Wieleman confirms. ‘The support requests are varied. To work here, you need some technical savvy, and you must enjoy rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done.’

There are plants in every room. Especially in Lumen there are a lot
Vera Wieleman

Most of the regular work ground to a halt due to the corona crisis. ‘There are hardly any people on campus, so there are few requests.’ But some new tasks popped up, such as watering the plants in Atlas, Gaia and Lumen, now that the regular office occupants are absent. These are privately owned plants that people bring from home to add some life to their office. The larger WUR plants are cared for by and external gardening service.


However, what seemed like a small chore at first, turned out to be a major undertaking. ‘As it turns out, there are a lot of plants.’ Wieleman states. ‘There are at least some in every room. Especially in Lumen there are a lot.’ A stroll through the buildings proves her point. The soil and vegetation scientists obviously have a green thumb. The plants keep Wieleman and her team occupied for at least a one day per week. And that is only with ‘their buildings’ Gaia, Lumen and Atlas.

Those are the only buildings to have requested this service. In Zodiac, occupants have been asked to take their plants home if at all possible, says location manager Thera Leenhouwers. The remaining plants are watered by colleagues that come into the office occasionally. Remy Bach, location manager of the Leeuwenborch, confirms that this also happens -in silent agreement- in his building.

Wieleman doesn’t complain. She did buy a few extra watering cans, though. ‘At first, we kept refilling a single watering can. So we bought a few more, which we fill and transport using a trolley. That makes the logistics simpler. Besides, we have placed all the plants in one room.'