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Top Takeaways from Tour of Dutch Horticulture

This summer, the A.M.A. Horticulture team visited the Netherlands to catch up with suppliers and partners, gain inspiration and broaden our knowledge about what’s happening in the horticulture industry beyond North America.

A reflection of our 40th anniversary commitment of Always Learning, Always Growing, the week-long team trip was a knowledge-packed whirlwind of flower trials, trade shows, supplier visits and more.

“It was a chance to meet face-to-face with our suppliers and others in the Netherlands and see first-hand how things look from their perspective,” says Connie Bradt, co-managing director of A.M.A. together with her husband Rick Bradt.

The team had the chance to see, for example, how Desch produces injection molded containers at their Epla facility. At the Florensis and Royal Van Zanten flower trials, they got a taste of variety and colour trends that we can expect to see coming to North America. And at the Royal FloraHolland flower auction in Aalsmeer, they got a glimpse into how fast and how far cut flowers travel around the world.

“It was an incredible trip that opened our minds to the world, and we’re thankful to all those in the Netherlands who met us along the way. This kind of learning helps us be the kind of well-rounded and trusted partners our customers need us to be.”

Connie Bradt, managing director, A.M.A. Horticulture

It would be impossible to capture all that the team saw and learned in one blog post, so we’ve done our best to pick some of the top takeaways from the trip.

Closed-Loop recycling programs can really work

The problem of how to deal with single-use plastics has loomed large for years and solutions are needed now more than ever. At A.M.A., our long-time recycling program allows us to pick up used trays from customers hassle-free. But the ingenuity we saw at VanKrimpen took things to a whole new level.

Right next door to VanKrimpen’s offices in Standdaarbuiten, they have established their own recycling facility where they collect post-industrial and post-consumer waste. They wash it, turn it into regrind, and repurpose it for new horticultural products. Products which A.M.A. is proud to supply to our customers here in North America.

“Our customers expect our products to be of a high quality. Yet these products do not necessarily need to be produced out of new material,” explains VanKrimpen on their website.

Learn more about their ‘Eco Loop‘ program.

It’s time to put a public spotlight on horticulture

Every ten years, an international horticulture exhibition descends on the Netherlands to show off innovation and technology, as well as the beauty and imagination that exists within the horticulture industry. Highly publicized and accessible, the Floriade Expo is an opportunity for the public to see what our industry has to offer the world. This year, the event took place in Almere, taking over a whopping 148 acres of land.

We agree with the sentiment on Floriade’s website: “When you think of the word ‘horticulture’, what comes to mind? It is not surprising that you would think of words such as ‘shrubs, ‘rake’ or ‘vegetable gardens’. Terms such as ‘sustainability’, ‘liveability’ and ‘a hopeful future’ probably come to mind less quickly, understandably so. The horticultural sector rarely gets the attention it deserves. A pity, because horticulture is amazing! Above all, it is essential to our common future.”

As people working in horticulture, committed to attracting new talent and supporting the next generation of growers, we need more of this kind of thinking in North America. There are big lessons to be learned from the Floriade festival.

Everyone faced the same COVID-19 struggles

Everywhere we went, there was an energy and enthusiasm for being out and in public again. Whether it was a trade show, a flower trial, or just lunch at a cafe, people were excited to be together, and back to normal.

In our conversations on the trade show floor at GreenTech, or with suppliers at dinner, we learned that experiences wrestling with COVID-19 were virtually the same everywhere. The industry in the Netherlands dealt with the same labour, production, supply and costing challenges that we did here in North America. And like us, they pushed through and made it to the other side. We may be distinct jurisdictions, but the horticulture industry is connected on a global scale and we experience the same pressures.

greentech show in Amsterdam Dry hydroponics A.M.A. horticulture

The big takeaway here? Boy is it nice to finally be able to enjoy one another’s company again. Let’s not take it for granted!

Fun/Personal Highlights

Just for fun, we asked members of the A.M.A. team to each share a personal highlight from the trip. One thing that they really enjoyed or continued to impress them days and weeks after returning to Canada.

Janan: “The virtual reality hot air balloon ride at Floriade. It was just an amazing and interactive way to experience the diverse landscapes of the Flevoland area.”

Alex: “The Desert Nest exhibition at Floriade. It had a power generator that could use solar and wind energy, assessing which would be more efficient based on conditions. Like vertical farming, it really maximized square footage and was a good example of innovation in sustainability.”

Craig: “Seeing the hive of activity at RoyalFlora Holland’s flower auction was incredible. Millions of flowers being sold and shipped at lightning speed – it was organized chaos!”

Shawn: “Every part of being out, seeing people, and seeing that our industry is still moving after COVID.”

Rick: “I really liked being at GreenTech. It was great to walk the show floor, see new things and see people that I haven’t seen for a long time. Everyone was in a great mood, just being out again.”

Connie: “When we go to the Netherlands, one of the first things I like to do is visit Intratuin, a major garden centre chain, to see what’s trending and what containers they’re using. Great to see Sabina Epla pots on display with sunflowers this year!”

Humans of Horticulture: Our Netherlands Tour in Photos!

Out and about, reconnecting with the horticulture industry in the Netherlands
Experiencing Floriade, the “World Fair” of horticulture
Colour, colour, colour! Flower trials and flower auctions

Always Learning, Always Growing

We believe that learning is the backbone of growth in horticulture. It’s what drives us forward and helps us realize our vision to cultivate the future of horticulture. That’s why we’ve made our 40th Anniversary theme, “Always Learning, Always Growing.”

Discover horticulture learning opportunities on social media by following the hashtag, #AlwaysLearnAndGrow, or use the hashtag to share your own learnings!

Join our team

Are you a solutions-oriented thinker who’s passionate about the future of horticulture? Join our close-knit team at A.M.A. As you can see by this post, we love to learn, grow and have fun, too! We’re always looking for talented people. See our opportunities or simply get in touch.