Floriade 2012 is a spectacular show about horticulture. It is one of those Dutch masterpieces that make you very proud of your country. We are great in green, we are great in flowers and we are great in presenting it.
Although the location of Floriade – Venlo – is ‘far away’ in the perspective of most Dutch citizens, transport is very well organized and this should absolutely not stop you from going there. Anyway it is easy to spend a complete day there either to see all the presentations, to follow daily programs or to have a picknick or a drink in a great environment so you don’t travel for ‘nothing’, you will be rewarded for any minute you spent to get there.
Best places to go in my view, loving horticulture and loving trade, are:
– Villa Flora with unique expositions of many many horticulture examples, extremely beautiful, innovative and creative
– Rabo Earthwalk, combining horticulture with trade dynamics worldwide and sustainability in a very innovative way
– several smaller ‘houses’ of local companies in horticulture who present their love for what their product is, for example a house where the diner table is all plants (see the photo on top) or the house where one can combine different trees with a house to find out which tree suits best in the neighbourhood
– art in horticulture as presented by the garden of Sjer Jacobs, it will touch your heart!
One point surprised me in this ‘once in ten years event’: that it somehow lacked identity. It is big, innovative, spectacular, beautiful – all that is true. But it was clearly made by engineers (sorry if you are one and feel hurt by my remarks). This is a top world exhibition but identity is less developed. Not only few souvenirs could be found that relate specifically to the Floriade – thus missing the opportunity to create Floriade ambassadors from within the public.
Also the catering was really below expectancy level. A visitor that is confronted with the best innovation practices and inspired by sustainability examples in this exhibition, expects to find good food in the restaurants and bars that reflects this innovation and sustainability. However, nothing like that. The food was in the hands of caterer Sodexo who obviously had no relation at all with the themes of Floriade and presented sandwiches in plastic as they do in our office restaurants all over the country. No experiments with products presented in the exhibition, not even fresh juices or vegetables… In the ‘big’ Aqua restaurant, they present ordinary sate with atjar tjampur and krupuk both from a plastic bag, with no rice or french fries at all but at a price as if they were included. It is the worst Dutch side of food things, that caterers tend to give you as less quality and quantity as possible for the ‘best’ price – in Belgium and Germany the word ‘spoiling the customer’ exists in foodland, but not in the Netherlands.
Few people visiting Floriade are citizens, gay, minority people. That is the ‘engineer side’ of the matter. Things are not presented in a way that the public would be more diverse. Visitors should be in the first place ‘horticulture motivated’. A bigger, combining identity is not formed and the concept of Floriade is not completed in objects and catering. This is a pity because the exhibition is worth it: it is extraordinary in every aspect of horticulture!
It could be so much rewarding, both for our country and for horticulture itself, to include more diversity in the event; starting with the inclusion of identity professionals (marketing, psychology, diversity) in the preparation of the event, and go beyond the vision of engineers only. It will attract more visitors and sell the uniqueness of this industry better all over the world!