Returning to Floriade this year was the culmination of a ten-year goal. The last one was so exciting, so beautiful, and inspiring I was determined to return.
Planning for Floriade 2022 began ten years ago with the theme of “Growing Green Cities.” Organizers recognized the continuing pressure of growing urban communities around the world with the goal “to bring together structural innovations and solutions for sustainable and livable green cities.
The climate change discussion can generate quite a storm of conflicting ideas. One issue is “Can we afford to change how we have always done things?” The other question is “Can we afford not to? It is even more difficult when we are given a list of don’ts: don’t use plastic, don’t eat meat, don’t fly, and don’t drive so much. All of this generates defensive responses. We want a solution, we want technology to save us, and perhaps technology enmeshed with nature’s systems will save us. My experience at Floriade 22 filled me with the hope that great minds are actively working on inspiring ideas of sustainable solutions for our future.
The path for growing greener cities was organized with a focus on the following:
“Greening the City: more greenery:
“Feeding the City: improved food supplies:
“Healthy the City: more conscious living:
“Energizing the City: smarter energy supplies:
It is clear to me that living in an urban environment requires green spaces and plant life. Scientific research supports this.
A research effort for determining the best street trees is on display. The French pavilion showcased a combination of an above-ground shade structure and a solar-powered street light.
Living in an urban environment doesn’t have to separate you from fresh food sources, as Floriade showcased innovation in greenhouses and urban gardening. Crops of salad greens, peppers, and strawberries were thriving in controlled environments.
Construction professionals showcased alternatives in building materials for sustainable architecture. A house designed with structural wood beams held with clamps rather than nails allows for the wood to be removed and reused in future construction.
Designers displayed various alternative materials, and a most attractive wall covering was made of corn husks.
The Dutch pavilion’s floor tiles are made from plant fibers with the illustrated vegetable shown on each square. Visitors have been walking on them for six months, and they are holding up well.
A 3-D printed wall made from sewer sludge is a creative use of a never-ending waste product.
As a country, the Netherlands aims to reduce waste of all kinds by 2050. Concrete is now mined from demolition sites, crushed into small pellets, and reused. Here at the expo walking bridges linking the island were all constructed with recycled concrete. A recent NYT article How to Recycle a 14-Story Office Tower featured the Netherlands’ new approaches to demolition and reusing building materials. The idea then works back to construction in new ways so all materials can be repurposed rather than manufacturing new.
The Expo site will transform into a city planned for a car-free, sustainable community at the conclusion of the exhibition. All electrical and sewer lines are in place for various single-family, multi-family, and urban farm living. Trees and landscaping are already growing to promote wildlife and pollinators’ habitat. Watching this development will significantly interest anyone hopeful for successful sustainable living.
More Discoveries I made attending Floriade 2022. All gave me hope.
Cardboard is made with 15% discarded tomato plant fibers mixed in with paper products, reducing the need for wood pulp.
The Dutch supply 40% of the world’s vegetable seeds and export to 160 countries
Modern floating hydroponic modules for food production make cultivation as sustainable and organic as possible, reprising floating gardens from a century ago in Thailand and Bangladesh.
ClearLight™ is a sustainable method to protect living plants against diseases stimulating the natural defense systems of the plants.
Ghent, Belgium, has set a goal of shifting protein consumption to 40% animal protein and 60% plant-based sources by 2030. Proclaiming themselves the proud vegetable capital of Europe.
Refilling a small water bottle cost $2, which startled me initially, and then I realized it puts the value of drinking water front and center in my mind.
Mycelium (mushrooms) can be used as building materials.
Compostable, biodegradable single-use food service is prominent at Floriade, in the Netherlands and much of Europe. We (USA) can do better.
Vegetables are a major export for Thailand; Crickets supply a protein source in pasta, protein bars, and snacks.
The Floriade 22 administration building illustrates the depth of land reclaimed from the sea; the glass walls are the height below sea level where you stand. The black wavy area represents the rich soil now available for food production.
Attendance for the 7th Floriade Expo was much lower than planned. Heat, drought, the pandemic, staffing shortages, and war in Ukraine had an impact, but if you were lucky enough to explore this event, there was much to learn and enjoy. This one wasn’t as garden focused or as filled with beautiful flowers, but having a hopeful future is truly beautiful.
Yes, hopeful was the feeling I still have after visiting Floriade 2022.
Around the world, Horticultural Expos present innovation and solutions to help us live more gently on this planet. Here is a link to the AIPH, which sanctions these events.
Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar, will be the first International Horticultural Exhibition held in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Expo 2025 Osaka Japan
Expo 2027 Yokohama, Japan, will host.
If, like me, you grew up with a story of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike and saved Holland, you might be confused about Holland vs.The Netherlands. The country is divided into twelve provinces. North Holland and South Holland are two of the 12 provinces.