It’s chilly out. Now and then the sun peeps out through the clouds. And that is a sight for sore eyes in the blossoming pear orchard for WUR fruit research on the edge of Zetten.
Photo: Margriet van Vianen
This is Alma van der Heiden’s workplace. She is the newest recruit at Wageningen Plant Research, where she has been working since October. Two months before that she attended an open day at the research station and pretty much fell on her feet: there was a vacancy. WUR is her first employer. Van der Heiden is a fresh graduate of the HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. ‘Applied Biology, majoring in plants.’ She enjoys her job. ‘I wanted something practice-oriented and in research. A lot of people with my background end up in plant breeding, so they spend their days in the controlled environments of the greenhouses. But I really like working in the fresh air like this, with all the changing conditions caused by the weather and the pests that go with it.’ It helps that her holiday jobs used to be in the fruit-growing sector. Not to mention that she loves apples. ‘I enjoy tasting all those different varieties.’ In her job she is currently working on testing varieties for their suitability for the Dutch climate. ‘These varieties come from breeding companies both at home and abroad. We look at how they do here and look for possible improvements to make. I help process the results.’ And that means regularly popping outside.