2016 / Editorial / Environmental

Amsterdam Flower lab

  • Photographer
    Giulio Di Sturco

In the "Wall Street of Flowers", the money has the smell of the rose, the tulip and the onion. Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport, the global hub of plants, hosts in its basement the largest flower auction in the world. 20 million flowers pass each day from hand to hand - 70% of of the global market. Local tulips, of course, but also - and increasingly - seeds, bulbs and cuttings from Ethiopia, Kenya, Costa Rica ... A global business that has became the trademark of the whole Amsterdam region, employing more than 30,000 people in this sector. Not just gardeners but nanobiologists, genomics experts, cold chain engineers, and the "nannies" in charge of plant nurseries that grow on the slopes of Schiphol.  Backtracking the industry and networks that lead to our local florists makes us discover a world that is both colorful and highly technological. A "green cluster" of 70 km around Amsterdam where start-ups mingles with universities, big corporations and a myriad of small business. Amsterdam is what we call an "Aerotropolis" (an airport within a city, with tight economic links). And this particular airport makes Holland - one of the smallest countries in the world - an economic giant. A valley of flowers which represents a turnover of 10 billion euros. With two peaks in the year: Valentine and Mother's Day.