Thursday, December 01, 2011

Flora Holland

Over the Thanksgiving holiday week, I traveled to Germany and the Netherlands. As a florist, the trip to the Netherlands was one I'd always hoped I could, one day, take. Not only is the Netherlands- Holland- known for wooden shoes and windmills, but also for flowers. Tulips in particular. Tulips are only the beginning of what is available from Holland.

I made a special trip to Aalsmeer, the Netherlands. Aalsmeer, is the home of Flora Holland. Flora Holland is the largest flower auction house in the world. It has over 6000 member growers represented. The auction house sells flowers grown in Europe as well as from Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, and from South America. It is the 'portal to the world market and allows trade companies to access the full international supply.'

In a nutshell- it was one amazing place for a florist to visit. I shot a lot of video while in the auction house. It was amazing to see how all of the flowers get from the fields to the florist.

The auction begins at 7am. But the day begins way before then. Flowers begin their trip 5pm the day before they're being auctioned. Product is pulled and the trip to the market begins at 8pm. It arrives around 10pm and things get checked in and refrigerated. By 4am the next day- auction day- the quality inspection begins. By 6am, thousands of buyers review what's available. The auction begins at 7am. As soon as flowers are sold in one of the two auction halls, they begin their journey to the florist. The auction goes very quickly. As the giant clocks tic down, flowers, foliages, plants and other products are sold at a rapid pace. Once sold, they're pulled, packed and their trip to the buyer begins. Flowers sold to local business can appear in-shop later the same day. They begin their journey out of the country equally as quick, with an overnight trip to the rest of the world.

It was amazing to see hundreds of thousands of stems of flowers. Everything from roses, gerbera daisy, orchids, tropicals and more to beautiful blooming and green plants. The photos show a huge variety of fresh product in various stages of handling. Flowers are grouped, pulled by handlers, transported into the auction, on carts and trollies, presented and sold on the 'big clock', pulled again to be packed and shipped to the buyers. And it all happens very fast. The buyers sit in the auction room, at one of the many seats with computers to analyze product and submit their bids.

This was truly an amazing opportunity for me, and one I'll never forget. It's important to know your roots- and now I really know mine... well, my flower's.

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