Theme trade fair GrootGroenPlus 2022: ‘Grounded’
"The tree nursery industry in the Netherlands has a solid foundation, which we want to expand upon"
Trade Fair GrootGroenPlus for the tree nursery industry will take place on Wednesday 5 - Friday 7 October 2022. The theme of this year’s edition is ‘Grounded’. This theme plays into current developments and has many interesting angles for the industry. We interviewed member of the board Erik Bastiaensen about the trade fair and its theme.
The trade fair has been well known in the industry for years, and continues to play an increasingly important role when it comes to making connections. More than 200 exhibitors of for example forest trees and hedging plants, ornamental shrubs, standard trees, forest trees, and park trees, roses, and rootstocks can be visited this year. The trade fair is intended for employees of garden centres, exporters, governments, institutions, housing corporations, and project developers, who are involved with the construction and maintenance of public or institutional green, either as a decision-maker, consultant, or in an executive role. Also some parties are present that are not directly ‘green’, such as suppliers of required products and technology, and representatives of the government and education.
Foundation for the industry
As a member of the board, Erik Bastiaensen has been involved with GrootGroenPlus for years, and tells us about the upcoming trade fair: “As trade fair organisation, we notice that people really long for a platform where traders and growers and other stakeholders in the industry can physically meet and see the products. That way, GrootGroenPlus is a foundation for the industry, which has proven itself for many trade fair years. During the corona pandemic, we had to go digital for a year, but after that, we were able to meet again. Without any current restrictions, we hope that participants and visitors will be able to meet again during the upcoming edition.”
GrootGroenPlus 2022 in short
During the 32nd edition of GrootGroenPlus, which will be held from 5 - 7 October in Zundert, it hopes to welcome 225 leading participants, and a large number of interested trade visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium, and approximately 30 other countries. The trade fair will take place in a cosy and hospitable atmosphere. There is an active PR policy, also for the participants.
Bastiaensen tells that he expects many international visitors. “Traditionally, a lot of traders and members of the press from dozens of countries come to Zundert; we expect that this will be the case again. We did notice that the war in Ukraine has an impact on the industry in multiple ways. This will also have consequences for the number of visitors from Eastern Europe. For individual companies, the impact of the war can be huge, while others might notice nothing.”
Summary of trade fair theme ‘Grounded’
GrootGroenPlus has issued an elaboration of the theme on A4. In short: it is essential that the tree nursery industry is ‘grounded’, working from a solid foundation, from its own strength, and with a solid base. Grounded on the soil, the basis for all growth: a living, rich, healthy soil. Good potting soil, fertilizers, and plant invigorators also contribute to the foundation for plant and industry. Growers are also grounded, rooted, in their region. They have often for generations been getting the most out of their grounds, which they know through and through.
“An important task for us as board is bringing the theme to life for the participants of the trade fair, and by doing that, also for the visitors,” explains Bastiaensen. “We do this through social media messages and other channels. And of course, we always have participants to whom the theme is less relevant. They mainly come for their trade and presentation. However, I do notice that the theme is really speaking to many participants, probably because it is such a fundamental theme. The trade fair theme results in focused attention, and a focus during the trade fair. Participants can use it to focus their trade fair presentation, to present a thought or idea, which will help them get their message across.
According to Bastiaensen, the trade fair theme is a good fit with current affairs: “Soil is very important at the moment. We grow in open soil and use container cultivation. Many companies work on their own ground, and have been for decades and generations. They are grounded there, and the ground, the soil, contributes to the value of the cultivation. Growers know exactly which plots are suitable for which type of cultivation. Container cultivation is also increasing; that’s a whole different approach. Container cultivation is often an additional activity, intended for example to be able to grow and supply in other seasons. The composition and setup of the process are also very current.”
Foundation for being
“The region in which a company is established, is also metaphorically seen as the ‘ground’, the foundation for being, of a company, of the plants you grow, the services you provide. The region often largely determines the type of company: if your foundation is on clay or sand, in a watery or very dry area, whether it has a good infrastructure for specific trade? Your location adds to the foundation of your company and the choices you make. And the trade fair is the location where all these different, grounded businesses and visitors meet and strengthen each other.”
Non-growers can also work with the trade fair theme, says Bastiaensen: “It is a very attractive theme for many suppliers: for example when it comes to potting soil, covering materials, and soil additions, such as fertilizers and bio-stimulants. There are also many consultancy agencies when it comes to soil, that draw attention to what is happening underneath the soil. What’s in it, is the soil healthy, balanced, rich, clean? Much is going on within the soil, such as soil life, and that determines also what happens above ground, the intended healthy growth of the plants.”
Competition ‘Good Soil’
To look at the soil from up close, a competition named ‘Good Soil’ will be created. Participants of the trade fair will be challenged to literally present their soil. They can submit soil to show why their products bloom best in a specific type of soil. Visitors will find a laboratory unit alongside the walking routes, which is part of this competition. This will offer interesting insights and sharing of knowledge, but also additional attention to all green and non-green participants of the competition.
And then, there are also general current developments. Bastiaensen: “The theme also fits with developments in the area of water, biodiversity, circularity, soil, sustainability, and the tree nursery of the future, in 2030. The demand for green products has increased tremendously and is expected to maintain on a high level. During the pandemic, many people discovered the value of green; for example through the national championship of flipping tiles. Construction projects also often include the construction of new green areas, and the government is focusing on more green in many ways. This strengthens the foundation of the industry.” Bastiaensen does see some challenges, which makes it even more important to have a solid foundation: “Think about sustainability issues, such as the way we handle fertilisation and crop protection. The focus is increasingly more often on a healthy, living soil, with a better balance. That also makes the soil less dependent on other resources, such as crop protection, the use of which is highly criticized. There are also great challenges when it comes to staff and cost increases. The margins are under pressure due to increasing costs in almost every area, such as energy, raw materials, foils and pots, with increases of 40 to up to 300 per cent. This is a challenge for the industry; we have yet to find out how supply and demand will relate to each other. Besides that, water is for many growers a current theme; we have to be careful with it. There are technical solutions for this, for example with drip irrigation. A lot of research is needed for this, to find out how this can be best applied. That also has a link with a healthy soil, for example because you can use water to provide the soil with a smart mixture of minerals or fertilizer.”
Erik Bastiaensen, CLTV Zundert
Erik Bastiaensen is general manager of CLTV Zundert. He is involved with GrootGroenPlus as member of the board since 2013, when the trade fair started to use the company location of CLTV. CLTV Zundert is regionally active as supplier in the tree nursery industry, including a physical store in agricultural products. The transport division works nationally for collecting, loading, and transporting tree nursery products. CLTV also works for companies active in growing strawberries, vegetables, fruit, and livestock. The organisation is divided into the work areas trade, auction, cooling, and transport.