As we look back on – and slowly start to recover from – our hectic yet immensely stimulating 2015 Member’s Congress, three feelings dominate our reflections: accomplishment, gratitude, and a sense of optimism!
A feeling of accomplishment
Let’s start with the results: the congress was a true experience. As was Florint’s vision, the congress managed to bring the entire flower sector together to share expertise, enjoyment, passion and insight. Vertically speaking, the entire chain was well-represented. And horizontally speaking, more nations were represented than ever before as well!
Our “1st International Flower Summit”, as we light-heartedly referred to our Congress up front, was thus in many ways exactly that: a truly global meeting of the minds. More than ever, we collectively addressed the issues facing our beloved industry and productively brainstorm about the required (re)solutions. That can only bode well for the future.
A quick recap of all the happenings
Our Members’ Congress started off by looking at the roots of floristry, as they lie in the past, to proceed to the future of floristry, as it lies ahead of us. The first element focused on the passion for flowers that got us all started on our florist paths, and how to rekindle that passion. The latter involved a thorough analysis of the challenges of the near-future, and the strategies with which to reach the consumer of the future: the millennial generation.
On Thursday, the congress participants visited the FloraHolland Trade Fair in Aalsmeer: a ‘juggernaut’ of an event. The famous Dutch flower auction is such a vast place that attempting to see, or recount, everything on display there is impossible. A number of people reportedly got lost during the tour, overwhelmed by the floral spectacle and scale of the premises. But don’t worry, they all made it back to the bus in the end!
On Friday, we attended the IFTF floriculture trade fair in Vijfhuizen, where Florint’s own ‘World of Flowers’ and ‘Flower Shop of the Future’ programs helped to inform florists about how to future-proof themselves. Both fairs drew record amounts of visitors this year: a testament to their further professionalization, globalization, and the improving health of the flower sector. In between; we also dropped by Waterdrinker’s awe-inspiring ‘Our World of Plants’ festival: an amazing celebration of all things green and botanical.
The Saturday was reserved for presentations, on various topics of importance to the industry: hygiene, market developments, the gaps between the various blocs that make up the flower chain (breeders, growers, wholesalers, florists…) and how to bridge those. Both the statistics that were mentioned and the passionate pleas of the speakers, were often eye-opening. Afterwards we unwound, with a lunch-time boat cruise in the bustling harbour of Rotterdam. Dutch master designer Pim van den Akker provided the floral backdrop, with his inspiring signature demonstration emphasizing the spontaneous joy of flower arranging: “if you’re struggling, you’re not doing it right!”
The Floristry Education Summit
Simultaneously, our 3-day European Summit on Floristry Education took place in Aalsmeer. It brought together about 25 professionals with a background in florist education, from all over Europe and beyond. Discussions focused on the challenges of florist schooling, and strengthening the ties between industry and education.
What competences does the florist of the near future require? What do the various national curriculums emphasize when it comes to florist skills? Furthermore, how do we make the floristry profession appealing again? Vital questions, which sparked a lot of discussion.
The International Judges Certification Seminar
And then there was another group of passionate florists, engaged in a very different but equally important part of the profession: being trained in the art of professional floral design judging! Florint’s 3-day Judges Certification Seminar (also at the Hilton Hotel in Rotterdam) aimed to provide aspiring floral arrangers with the ideal preparation for the national assessment procedure for candidate judges.
But it was not just our own assembly…
And we can’t forget to mention: we did not organize our Members‘ Congress by ourselves this year! We were joined for many of our activitites by international flower trade association Union Fleurs, in celebration of their annual autumn reunion, and the MPS Sustainable Certification Group, for their 20th anniversary. Furthermore, Dutch flora wholesalers association VGB celebrated its 40th anniversary! It was, in other words, a unique flower summit, culminating in a wonderful gala dinner on Saturday with all of those organizations present.
So we would like to thank…
Needless to say, our gratitude goes out to all those who attended, and helped realize, this inspirational floral ‘rendezvous’. It was a unique congress with a great atmosphere, which left us with a feeling of optimism towards the future – all its challenges notwithstanding. Thank you! We already look forward to organizing another spectacular edition next year. But first, we expect to see you in Genova, at the beginning of April, for the Europa Cup European Florist Championship 2016!!