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Holland Flowering

Holland Flowering: How the Dutch Flower Industry Conquered the World

Andrew Gebhardt
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Holland Flowering
    Book Description:

    Worldwide, the indelible image of the Netherlands is the tulip. But the tulip is not alone: flowers of all kinds have long been a key part of both the Dutch identity and the Dutch economy, and inHolland Flowering, Andrew Gebhardt offers a dazzling tour of Dutch flower culture, from the earliest days of horticulture to attempts to grow bulbs on the moon.Building his account around the world's largest flower auction, Aalsmeer's, which is located near Amsterdam, Gebhardt links past and present, petals and painting, colonial trading and the European Union. The resulting book is as unusual as it is ambitious, full of insights into horticulture, the workings of markets, globalization, aesthetics, and Dutch popular culture.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2259-0
    Subjects: History, Economics, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Holland Flowering
    (pp. 9-44)

    As different as the world would be, it could run without contemporary financial institutions, people could thrive without nation states, and our current political and economic systems could be jettisoned or radically reimagined. But without the botanical and biological contributions of flowers, entire ecosystems would collapse and most non sea life would quickly perish. Also, the history of civilization shows that our cultivation of plants (as opposed to hunting and gathering) marked a profound switch, affecting every area of human development and social organization, from gender and sexuality to health, religion, eating habits, and more. Due to the rise of...

  2. Early Dutch Horticulture
    (pp. 45-86)

    Throughout 2009, New York honored the four hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival as captain of the Dutch ship, Halve Maen (Half Moon), on a journey sponsored, like many other colonial ventures of that era, by the Dutch East India Company, the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC. Many celebrations commemorated New York’s Dutch roots, including several tulip-naming ceremonies. In Manhattan’s Battery Park, on the spot where the Half Moon landed, Princess Máxima dribbled champagne to baptize the bright orange ‘Henry Hudson’ tulip, and the royal couple presented the City of New York with a gift of 120,000 bulbs donated by...

  3. The Rise of Aalsmeer’s Horticultural Grower’s Cooperatives
    (pp. 87-124)

    “This is the place to be,” said Fedor Broers when I asked him why he had come all the way from his farm in Ecuador to the Aalsmeer auction. He cast his eyes across the five-hundred-plus-seated hall up at the triple screens of auction clocks, and then down to the trains of linked flower carts snaking along the floor. “I use the auction as a display for my flowers. That way everybody can get a look. This place is like a global showcase.” On his balance sheet, Fedor doesn’t earn much money at FloraHolland. Most of this Dutch grower’s flowers...

  4. The Dutch Flower Auction: Traders
    (pp. 125-164)

    Dutch growers founded the horticultural auctions, they vote on auction policies, and they closely follow auction prices and trends. But they have little involvement with the auction’s day-today operations, not even with the order their flowers and plants are sold, which is decided by lottery. Yet to the horticultural industry and to FloraHolland Aalsmeer, what happens here is no less crucial than cultivation, the grower’s side of the cooperative. Events in the auction impact the whole horticultural chain. This is where the flowers and plants are sold. The auctions determine prices, and those prices reverberate through exporters, wholesalers, and retailers,...

  5. Horticultural Aesthetics
    (pp. 165-208)

    The annual International Horti Fair held in Amsterdam RAI presents an important platform for cutting-edge technologies, services, and providers, and attracts visitors from around the world eager to showcase what they have to offer, to see the latest and future trends, and to meet people. One of the biggest global horticultural events, the Horti Fair evolved alongside, and partly through, the Aalsmeer auction. The original Flower Trade Show developed in Aalsmeer in 1963 from Bloemenlust and CAV (Aalsmeer’s founding auctions); in the 1970s it moved to the current FloraHolland center in Aalsmeer, and focused on what was called ‘food crop...

  6. Planet of Flowers
    (pp. 209-254)

    It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire; today one might make a similar claim about the Dutch flower industry. From East Africa to East Asia, from Israel and Palestine to Ecuador and Brazil, Aalsmeer’s auctions span the globe, selling flowers grown in 60 countries and exporting to about 140. Over the past several decades, the dynamics of horticultural production, transportation, and consumption have been shifting to more complex patterns and arrangements, and while the Netherlands remains at the center, the very idea of what it means to be at the center is changing. Industry...

  7. Afterword
    (pp. 255-260)

    In spring 2014, I met Tecla Aerts, a trim, blue-eyed humanresources advisor in her mid-fifties at Flora Holland Aalsmeer. An acquaintance of ours who works at the auction had given her an early draft of this book, which she read. “Suddenly I began to notice how Calvinistic this industry really is,” she told me. “I mean I’ve worked here ten years, I guess I knew it, but I didn’t really see it before. It’s not only white and male and all that: there are a lot of religious people, too. There’s abedrijfsgebed, a company prayer, along with daily news...