The 10 most important lessons for food horticulture
On July 22nd, the tenth and last interactive session of the first EAT THIS webinar series took place. NethWork and World Horti Center look back on a successful series, bursting with inspiration and new insights concerning the ‘future of food’ by visionaries from – and more particularly – outside the horticultural sector.
On 6 May, architect Rem Koolhaas was the first to step onto the digital stage, followed by nine other world-class speakers. Below, you find the most important lessons presented by these speakers, who showcased their vision of how horticulture can make its position future-proof.
#1 Connectivity within the sector and with society
Rem Koolhaas opened EAT THIS with a sharp diagnosis on international horticulture: ‘The sector is doing well on many themes, but it lacks “connectivity”. The themes are loose dots that need to be connected in order to find answers to the questions posed by society.’
#2 Let go of existing assumptions and ask the right questions
Clemens Driessen (a philosopher affiliated with Wageningen UR) emphasized that if the horticultural sector were to let go of assumptions and start asking those questions that are most important again, it can search for meaning and develop business models based on this.
#3 Develop a plan (vision)
Meiny Prins (CEO of Priva) added to the above that answers only have an effect if they are based on a clear vision. Her vision and solution for the Sustainable Urban Delta is an example of this.
#4 Don’t focus on one singular result; the future demands tailor made solutions
Henry Gordon Smith (Managing Director of Agritecture) stated that realizing future food production systems is custom work that requires an open mind and diversity.
#5 When attracting talent, opt for diversity
According to Dave Chen (CEO of Equilibrium), the international food system will change dramatically, and that capital will be playing a decisive in this during the next ten years. The horticultural sector can only survive if it is able to attract the right talent.
#6 Dare to look at things from a different perspective and acknowledge the power of the outsider
Anthropologist Jitske Kramer focused on the fact that, apart from economic laws, human values also have an impact. According to her, connecting cultures and looking at one’s own sector from a different perspective is decisive for business success – and sustainable business success in particular.
#7 Develop a credible, honest story; facts alone are not enough
Ecomodernist Hidde Boersma added to Jitske Kramer’s talk by saying that it’s not about facts alone. Having a credible, honest story is of paramount importance.
#8 Connect with groups in society and engage them
To Erin Fitzgerald (CEO of the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance), this means making clear choices. She seeks connectivity with the different groups in our society.
#9 Go in search of universal, human themes: ‘Touch the hearts and change the minds’
Jasper Claus of 1Camera managed to capture this for Fitzgerald’s organization in the impressive 30 Harvests, a documentary linking the story of food and food production to universal, human themes.
#10 Take the initiative; the sector is part of the solution to social issues
Berry Marttin (member of the Rabobank Executive Board) sees international food production as part of the solution to the climate problem, in which individual and collective responsibility is borne not only by companies, but also by governments and citizens.
Marttin proposed to reach a new agreement in Paris, following the example of the climate treaty, but which focuses on food and the entire chain. In doing so, he underlined the importance of international connectivity, the theme with which Rem Koolhaas opened the EAT THIS series. Following on the success of this webinar series, the organizers decided that this initiative will be continued in this autumn to enable the international dialogue to continue.
Information about EAT THIS! and recorded sessions can be accessed via https://www.worldhorticenter.nl/en/eat-this
Storytelling is key; EAT THIS! features filmmaker Jasper Claus
During the EAT THIS! webinar session on July 15, Jasper Claus, an award winning filmmaker of corporate stories and films, shared his vision on how the horticultural sector can create a credible story that appeals to society. The online session provided some refreshing insights, once again highlighting the added value of the vision an outsider can provide to the horticulture domain. Jasper started his presentation by naming a few issues that really don’t work when telling a story and reaching your target group like bragging and promising. A good story always starts by asking yourself: ‘Why do people listen?’ According to Jasper, a story should reflect on our own existence and challenge us to think about is. It is important that you can relate to the story, that it is recognizable and touches universal human themes. Truth is essential. Jasper calls it: ‘touching the hearts and changing the minds’
He also reflected on the horticultural sector, or the Ag sector in general where he is facing a number of challenges. There’s insufficient trust and lack of knowledge in society. He also finds a sector that is talking too much to itself and makes too little connection to the outside world. As a result, the way the sector look at itself does not correspond at all to the vision or image society has of horticulture.
Storytelling is key and can change this vision by emphasizing universal human themes, truth and empathy. As a sector we have a powerful tool in hand. We provide the world of healthy food and beautiful flowers and plants. Food, but also plants, connect. By using the emotion of having food together or giving a beautiful bouquet of flowers in your communication, the sector can connect to society.
The basis to create change is doing research. To be able to tell the truth, you have to find it first! And to be able to discover the truth, you need outsiders who are critical and curious and go look for real stories about real people. Jasper doesn’t think that sharing strategic visions is the right way to provide solutions for global problems, a grand theme such as sustainability is also too abstract to really mobilize people. He thinks that showing emotion is important. Empathy builds bridges and forges connections. This leads to dialogue and discussion so that society can be convinced that the food sector is part of the solution (and not the problem). If you missed this inspiring session, watch it via this link: https://bit.ly/RecEATTHISJasperClaus
Next week Berry Marttin, board member of Rabobank, will share his vision on the future of food, being a banker and a farmer. Being the ‘sidekick’ to Jasper during the EAT THIS! session of July 15, he very much confirmed Jasper’s argument; emotion is important when telling your story. How Rabobank is dealing with storytelling and views the future, he will explain next week. You can already sign up for this session via this link: https://bit.ly/EATTHISBerryMarttin
The future starts now!
30 Harvests is an impressive vision that inspires, also in other sectors
The main guest of today’s EAT THIS! session was Erin Fitzgerald, CEO of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA), an organization that unites 1.6 farmers and ranchers all over the United States. The United States is the largest agricultural exporter in the world, but the Netherlands comes in second and is a major food producer in the world. During these unprecedented times of societal changes World Horti Center and NethWork thought it would be interesting to see how farmers in the United States deal with the current challenges and what the horticultural sector can learn from them.
Erin’s organization USFRA has a strong focus on bringing relevant parties together and have them cooperate throughout the value chain in order to face this crisis, but also to create a sustainable future of the food system in the United States. Food needs to be healthy, affordable and safe.
Throughout the years farmers have not always been heard and she confirms: ‘when you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu’ and it is important that farmers unite and develop a joint vision and mission, because farmers are in a unique position to actually create that sustainable future. Stewardship is an important focal point; ‘our arable land is our greatest asset to feed the population and we need to take care of it in a sustainable way in order to hand it over to future generations.’ If you missed this session, check out the recording here: https://bit.ly/RecEATTHISErinFitzgerald
USFRA connects its vision to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and brings society, research, technology and investments together in their mission. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to present an inspiring and authentic story that presents all these elements. To this end USFRA worked with 1Camera and Jasper Claus to make the film 30 Harvests, in which a personal story connects with their greater goals.
Next week, Jasper Claus will share his vision on the future of food and how visual storytelling actually works when crafting an authentic, meaningful message for your organization. Join us on Wednesday 15 July, 16.00 hrs CEST and you can already register here: https://bit.ly/EATTHISJasperClaus
Towards a sustainable future of food…is Ecomodernism the solution?
Following the fascinating presentation of corporate anthropologist Jitske Kramer last week, Hidde Boersma took center stage to share his vision on food and food production during the EAT THIS! session on July 1. In the past ten years, Hidde, in daily life a molecular biologist, science journalist and filmmaker, has developed himself into one of the leading Eco modernists in the Netherlands. Eco modernists are convinced that the modernization of society is no threat, but a promotion of sustainability. For Hidde this means intensification of land use, so that more land can be given back to nature. Studies support his opinions, but he experiences that it is very difficult to convince others of this story. Facts alone are not enough. He agrees with Jitske and says ‘you need to know each other’s values and speak the right language in order to truly convince the other of what you’re thinking. The other needs to trust you and your story.’
Hidde is a convinced Eco modernist, but always open to different opinions, because usually what the other wants is what he strives for: a sustainable future of our food system. Building relationships and making connections, that is important and provide opportunities and the energy to continue.
Next week Erin Fitzgerald, CEO of US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance knows quite a bit about relationship building and getting different parties to the table to discuss and decide on a joint future. She also recognized Hidde’s argument of the need to speak the language of the people you want to reach and the power of visual story telling.
On July 8 she will be our main guest and share her vision on the future, a vision that can actually be summarized in two powerful words: 30 Harvests.
Join us next week, you can register via this link: https://bit.ly/EATTHISErinFitzgerald
EAT THIS! explores 'tribes and cultures' with corporate anthropologist Jitske Kramer
After a two-week break, World Horti Center, in close collaboration with NethWork, resumed the EAT THIS! webinar series on June 24. Corporate anthropologist Jitske Kramer started out with a powerful statement: you need to know where you come from, in order to know where you are going to. If you don’t know your past, how will you ever know what your future will be like?
She then invited the audience to travel with her around the world looking for what it is that people connects to each other. Central to her vision are ‘tribes’, groups of people with a shared culture. Knowledge about tribes and cultures is essential, especially within the (international) corporate sector. Tangible results can only be achieved when bridges can be built between cultures. Working and living as part of a tribe also forces people to look at themselves from another perspective. Two important (and sometimes seemingly opposing) forces are key: power (results, achievements) and love (relationships, trust, connections).
The challenge is, also for companies, to find the right balance between these two.
Strong cultures are characterized by the ability to welcome others, including the so-called ‘rebel minds’ and acknowledge different opinions and voices. She also mentioned that the culture’s story should be told in a language others can understand; ‘Tell me your story in a language I understand and I want to be part of it.’
To be successful in an ever-changing world, especially in these unprecedented time, Jitske’s presentation offered a lot of food for thought for the horticultural sector.
If you missed this session, watch the recording here.
Next week we will explore the horticultural ‘story’ further with Hidde Boersma, molecular biologist, writer and film maker and Erin Fitzgerald, CEO of USFRA (United Farmers & Ranchers Association). What can greenhouse producers learn from American farmers and vice versa, what are their stories and how to they connect? Curious? Join us on Wednesday July 1 for the next EAT THIS! session via this link: https://bit.ly/EATTHISHiddeBoersma
EAT THIS! dives into sustainable investments in controlled environment production
Following last week's session with Henry Gordon Smith. Dave Chen, CEO of private equity firm Equilibrium, will explain in more detail his firm's vision on purposeful, sustainable investment in controlled environment production and why this way of investing is so important for the future of the horticultural sector. In the past few years, his private equity firm Equilibrium invested more than 100 million USD in horticultural projects and there’s much more to come. Purpose driven investment and sustainability are key to his business.
He strongly agreed with Henry Gordon Smith and also with Meiny Prins that food production in and near the cities is becoming more important. The current crisis will only accelerate the developments towards food systems based on short(er) chains, resilience and with a regional focus. These developments will have a great impact on the future (geographical location and role) of horticulture.
He also argues that the current advances in technology that take place at break-neck speed, call for open minds and out-of-the-box thinking. To this end, attracting outside talents with different backgrounds and competences to work in horticulture is crucial for further development of the sector.
Dave Chen will explain his vision on ‘the future of food’ in more detail during the upcoming EAT THIS! session, taking place on June 3 from 16.00 hrs CET onwards.
In Curious to know more? Join us for this session via this link: https://bit.ly/EATTHISDaveChen
Following the engaging sessions of Clemens Driessen and Meiny Prins, taking us back to the start of professional horticulture in the 17th century as well as the future, the Sustainable Urban Delta, during the next 2 sessions EAT THIS! will explore the world of innovative, smart agriculture and private equity investment in sustainable horticulture.
Cities everywhere are turning to smart technology to solve their most pressing issues of transport, education and housing. What will the impact of these technologies be on social cohesion and the environment? One emerging technology for cities is Smart Agriculture which includes vertical farming, smart greenhouses and IOT-empowered open field agriculture. These technologies, along with a growing movement of young farmers across the globe, have the potential to transform the food system that cities and people depend upon. The session with Henry Gordon Smith will take place on May 27 and you can join the webinar via this link: https://bit.ly/EATTHISHenryGordonSmith
Eat This! online series continues with Clemens Driessen & Meiny Prins
After the first successful first Eat This! webinar with Dutch writer and architect Rem Koolhaas, we continue on Wednesday May 13 with Clemens Driessen, philosopher at Wageningen UR and Meiny Prins, CEO of Priva. Clemens, from being the 'sidekick' to Mr. Rem Koolhaas last week, will now put the spotlight on the history of professional horticulture. He will take the audience on a tour of Westland in the early 17th century. Clemens will argue how the Westland we know now, and its approach of total mastery and control of both plants and space was invented on this very spot 400 years ago. He will take us on a tour through the garden of Amalia van Solms behind the Palace of Honselersdijk: at the time ‘the Versailles of the North’ but today almost completely erased. We will meet illustrious figures such as Rene Descartes, Constantijn Huijgens and others who set out to revolutionize our relations to the natural world and invent our modern view of space. What would they think of Westland today? And what can we learn from this history for the future of horticulture?
In conversation with Meiny Prins, he will explore how we can collectively imagine a food system that makes good on the promises of early modern thinkers and horticulturalists, while avoiding the pitfalls of their approach. After reaching technical perfection, do we need to rethink the culture of horticulture? What motivates a modern vegetable grower? Where is the politics and poetry in climate control?
If you want to get involved in the discussion, do register to join the session via this link: https://bit.ly/EatThisClemensDriessen
Online series Eat This! features thought leaders on the future of food!
Rem Koolhaas first guest in online webinar series ‘Eat This’
World Horti Center and NethWork collaborate in giving follow up to the exhibition ‘Countryside – The Future’ initiated by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, that was opened on February 20 in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The exhibition among others features the current and future developments in food production, especially what is happening in greenhouses.
The exhibition is currently closed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the production of cherry tomatoes in a closed, high tech production unit, situated in front of the museum on Fifth Avenue, continues. Right in the center of the world and the epicenter of the pandemic. The unit therefore, is a great metaphor and catalyst in the discussion on the consumption of healthy food, produced in a sustainable and affordable way. Therefore, World Horti Center (WHC) took the initiative to facilitate, in cooperation with foundation NethWork, a new series of online events.
During weekly webinar sessions, thought leaders in the field of food will share his/her vision on (the future of) healthy food. The kick off takes place on Wednesday 6 May, 16.00 hrs CEST and features architect Rem Koolhaas, initiator of the exhibition ‘Countryside – The Future’. He will be assisted by Clemens Driessen, philosopher at Wageningen UR. Both gentlemen will share their vision on current developments and the future of horticulture in the Netherlands and beyond.
This webinar series, named ‘Eat This’ is a close collaboration between NethWork and World Horti Center. Both organizations want to connect the horticultural sector with the world beyond horticulture. Renee Snijders and Ed Smit of NethWork will present these weekly webinar sessions.
After the inaugural session with Rem Koolhaas, 9 webinars will follow. Additional details on guests and themes will follow soon. You can already register for this first session via this link.
World Horti Center
World Horti Center is the knowledge and innovation center for international greenhouse horticulture. A leading platform where business, education, research and government jointly innovate, connect, inspire and share knowledge. Every year, World Horti Center, located in the epicenter of Dutch greenhouse horticulture, is visited by 25,000 international professionals.
Press attention for opening Countryside – The Future in Guggenheim
The opening of the exhition 'Countryside, The Future' draw substantial media attention. Please find below a collection of articles in both English and Dutch:
- New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/arts/design/rem-koolhaas-guggenheim.html