Already in the 1800’s it was well-known for his tree-nurseries. ‘De Coninck’ is a well spread family name in our village. Different branches of the family ‘De Coninck’ were very active in tree-nursery. One of them founded in 1848 the ‘Boomkwekerijen – Pepinières De Coninck’. An other tree-nursery (founded in 1847) belonged to the ‘Dervaes’ family and was named ‘Boomkwekerijen – Pepinières Dervaes’. I cannot find information if those was also located in Maldegem. A son De Coninck (Camille) married a daughter Dervaes and in 1900 they bring both companies together under the name of ‘Boomkwekerijen – Pepinières De Coninck-Dervaes’.
In their top years (1920 -1960) tree-nursery De Coninck-Dervaes was very famous through the whole world. Already in that time they made export to the whole Europe, USA, Japan,… They where nearly exclusive supplier for the gardens of the Belgian and lot of European royal families. The Belgian Kings were many times unofficial in Maldegem to choose trees and other flower plants as roses for their gardens. In the 1950’s and 1960’s film stars, singers, international jet set,… were the guests of De Coninck-Dervaes. They took over tree-nurseries in whole Europe. Even not the sky was the limit. In the 1960’s they named a new rose type ‘Caravelle’. Therefore they rented a Caravelle airplane and during a flight over Belgium high in the sky our current Queen Paola (than Princess) baptized the new rose. A non seen marketing event for Belgian at that time…
I think there was a time that they had 100 or even more employees. The company / family owned big parcels of land to do their activities. When it was going downwards with the business all this ground was sold, mostly parcelled for house building. I live now in a house in the neighbourhood of the former De Coninck – Dervaes properties. Also my house belonged to an other branch of the De Coninck family.
As you see the history of the tree-nursery De Coninck-Dervaes has taken some mythical proportions in our village. Also with the other tree-nurseries in Maldegem it was going down and at this time there are only few left. Now there are no more people living in Maldegem named ‘Dervaes’.
-excerpted from an email written to Jordanne by Patrick G who is researching the Derveas family history
I guess most folks wonder why we do what we do. Sure, it’s the right thing – good for the health of the people and the planet but there is something strong than that – blood.
With the birth of PTF over a decade ago, the non profit Dervaes Institute two years ago, then Freedom Gardens just last spring and now Freedom Seeds just last month it’s only fittin we follow in the footsteps of our ancestors as a sort of tribute to them and their works.
Not only do these ties bind us to the past but they are anchors for us as we head into the future.