Flowers Food for thought Vegetables
Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Roelof Drost

Healthy flowers, happy food; The green industry must get a lot greener

I can hear you ponder: “Healthy flowers, happy food, isn’t it the other way around?”

Health and happiness often go hand in hand; true for most of us. Of course, we can be happy when not 100% healthy and, likewise, very unhappy when perfectly healthy. We can; because WE are human.

Not so for plants. To be happy, plants must be healthy. When not happy, plants will let us know. Broken-hearted plants will `silently scream and shout’ signals of unhappiness to us. Those aware; those sporting a green thumb; those fluent in ‘plant language’ - in horticulture we call these persons ‘growers’ - reinstate plant health, ensuring plant happiness and, best of all, make these happy plants bring forth an abundance of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Unhappy plants will not feed anybody; unhappy plants spend all their energy on a struggle for survival.

Tackling climate change is fast becoming priority number one. Old habits need decarbonization. A once in a lifetime opportunity for the horticultural industry to lead the way. By becoming smarter, healthier, and much greener, horticulture can show the world how to, sustainably, spruce-up and feed an ever-increasing urbanised population. The task? Re-designing growing systems, originally designed to - no matter inputs or location - generate maximum yield. Today, it is all about less, using less of everything used ‘too much of’ yesterday; water, pesticides, fertilizer, plastic, packaging, energy, and transport. Decarbonizing the entire sector needs prioritization. Circularity needs prioritization. Less waste needs prioritization. Using less of everything needs prioritization. Producing more local, healthier, happier, and fresher flowers, plants, and food need prioritization. Less should equal more. More of the good stuff. A difficult but doable challenge.

Gone are the days when flowers were happy, and veggies were healthy no matter how or where produced. Finally, we are collectively gaining the understanding that our environment, just like plants, cannot be happy without being healthy. Recognizing this means acting. Take note of today's businesses supplying the horticultural industry, focussing in on ways to aid growers around the globe reach their goals in becoming sustainable, low carbon, carbon neutral or even carbon negative operations.

The sheer fact that ‘happiness and health’ are directly linked to the health of our planet, might help us acknowledge that ‘healthy flowers’ and ‘happy food’ indeed makes sense. Some still would argue that ‘happy’ and ‘healthy’ should be the other way around. Yes, maybe, it used to be like that. But we need change, real change. So, why not take it a step further, double down and make it:

Fresh Flavory Flowers and Vivid, Vibrant Vegetables produced & proudly promoted by a Happy, Healthy Horticultural - locally prioritizing - global industry.

I am confident, this sounds about right for most of us. It does so for the planet.


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