Royal FloraHolland and Urban Greeners
From the first glimpses of Dutch scenery to the delicate art that adorns Delftware, it is apparent that horticulture and the greater Dutch culture are intricately entwined. Today, we toured Royal FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower auction, and UrbanGreeners, an entrepreneurial collective of young professionals dedicated to enhancing the relationship between nature and society.
Royal FloraHolland was one of the most fascinating tours of the trip. An accurate description of the auction would be “Chicago Mercantile Exchange meets your local florist.” While the giant warehouse was filled with the heady scent of thousands of flowers, the din of transportation and logistics was nearly more overpowering. At every daily auction, thousands of flower trolleys are conveyed to their respective buyers in a complicated dance of traffic; each trolley is hauled by a person driving a small forklift-like vehicle. To ensure that the trolleys reach the correct destinations, a complicated system of lights and headset communication is used. The signals for these systems are determined in the auction itself, a combination of both digital and human trading. The tribunal, or the trading room, looks something like you would expect in finance, with headset-garbed traders engrossed in double computer screens (these would be “Bloom”berg terminals in the literal sense. The auction is a system of such intricacy that it rivals even its most delicate bloom. Time and precision are of the essence in bringing Dutch horticulture to the world markets.
UrbanGreeners, a sustainable entrepreneurial collective, was fascinating in its own right. We met with Koen, a young architect with a passion for local and sustainable building. Our meeting took place in a floating houseboat designed and built by Koen himself, with rafters of curved wood sourced from a forest only a few hundred meters away. The collective is filled with passion for weaving the Dutch love of nature and horticulture into a new type of community, the green city. The group is involved in planning Floriade 2022, a world expo of horticulture, in which UrbanGreeners hopes to create a fully self-sufficient city that will long outlive the Floriade itself, providing an inspiration for the creation of green cities everywhere.
To say that The Netherlands has a culture of horticulture would be redundant, as the two words seem nearly interchangeable. From the enormous yet intricate auctions at Royal FloraHolland to the young passion of UrbanGreeners, the Dutch way of marrying horticulture with daily life provides a realistic inspiration for a more beautiful and sustainable world.