Floriade: from Agro technology to Zen garden

There’s a Floriade show, a Floriade kids week, a Floriade fashion show…This year’s edition of the biggest Dutch horticultural expo, which will be open to the public on Thursday, is about much more than just flowers, writes FD.

Ten years ago 10% of the Floriade visitors were professionals who came for the latest in horticulture. But according to chairman Nico Koomen of the horticultural council Nationale Tuinbouwraad, it is important to interest young people as well. ‘We’re famous for our horticulture abroad but at home the sector is only ever in the news when something like the Ehec crisis happens. Young people associate horticulture with heavy, dirty work but there are plenty of other jobs. You can be a technician, an ICT specialist or a marketeer’, he tells the paper.
Visitor numbers
The new family-fiendly approach may also have something to do with the disappointing visitor numbers of the last edition of the Floriade, ten years ago, writes FD. Instead of the projected three million people, only two million showed up. Revenue was down too, although sponsor Rabobank calculated that Hoofddorp, where the Floriade was held at the time, did profit from the event in the long run.
The Floriade pr machine has been revving up for the last three years. A Floriade truck has been calling at big events like the Huishoudbeurs and tour operators have been pressed to include the expo in their holiday packages. CNN has named the expo in its top ten of World’s top destinations and there will be journalists from China to Australia. The bulk of the visitors is expected to come from the Netherlands (40%) and Germany (40%).
But the Floriade doesn’t come cheap and the crisis has hit the budget, FD writes. Of the €85m needed to mount the Floriade, €15m comes from the local councils in the region, another €15m from the provincial authorities and €40m from tickets and food and drink consumption. The final €10m comes from sponsors. The Rabobank contributes €6m.
The bank is expecting an extra turnover for companies of up to €280m and a €160m profit for the region. Venlo, this year’s venue, will be left with an industrial park which will provide the bank with a number of clients. ‘The presidents from Turkey, Mexico and China are on the guest list and they will all be bringing trade delegations’, Koomen tells the paper.
So what can people expect to see at the Floriade? The 66 hectare terrain is home to some 40 exhibits from abroad and 90 from the Netherlands. One of the Dutch exhibits is the sustainable office, in which trees and shrubs literally shoot up transforming the workspace into a green oasis. You can have a bright idea in the Nepalese Garden of Enlightenment, or be a pollen gathering bee.
The Dutch government’s contribution is a 15metre high pod which houses the Green Lab where facts and figures about sustainable horticulture are presented in a playful manner. Of course, the traditional Dutch bulbs remain one of the main attractions. 1.8 million of them were put into the ground, along with 5,000 rose bushes. The Floriade is open until October 7th.

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