Simon Ogrizek needs no further introduction. Skilled landscape designer and master florist, recently elected for a second term as Florint President, summarises the last years, shares his opinion about the influence of the pandemic on the sector and presents the plans of Florint for the coming year.
New Year is a typical moment for summaries and drawing up plans for the coming year. How would you summarise 2021?
In 2021 we have already adjusted a little to the pandemic situation. Because of these challenging years, greenery was recognised as essential for daily life. Not only by people themselves but also confirmed by many governments! That means we are, in reality, the lucky ones. But here I mean mainly those people in the sector who invested in marketing and expertise in previous years. So I think I can fairly say the last year was a harvest for horticulture. And as I said, people now fully recognise the importance of green in their life – and I do hope that won’t be only a temporary trend, but will last for at least 30 years. Suddenly, we all have to think about taking care of nature; sustainability has become a vital part of daily life. That is why 2020 and 2021 were very important for nature.
Our children should inherit a healthy natural world from us.
Are you saying the pandemic showed us the importance of nature?
If we say it was a nice year, immediately governments would raise our taxes (laughter). That is why we need to be very diplomatic in our positive reaction to those changes.
We are both involved in this sector and pay attention to topics like sustainability or climate change. But how do you recognise that ordinary people also see the rising importance of those issues?
Due to this situation with Covid-19, people have been pushed closer to nature, as many cultural activities were simply closed. In 2020 people had to stay home, and many of them made something at home; and while arranging balconies and terraces – outdoor discovered plants. I think it was a fantastic way to bring them closer to the natural environment.
Do you have an idea how to keep this interest? You said it would be great to keep the interest up, but it is good to stimulate it too.
Well, that depends on the advertisement. If we inform daily about the importance of green, it will bring results. But this depends on the strength of the sector and government support. People from the industry need to cooperate and communicate the truth about nature. Again we are coming back to issues like sustainability, shortening transportation chains, and local production. That does not mean that big sectors like this in the Netherlands will collapse. I think this new balanced approach will make them even stronger, because they can still export knowledge, good practices, and climate-friendly growing techniques. But we cannot forget about local values. Therefore changes have to be implemented in the national and global economy, and people should be aware of the reasons behind those changes. Still, I believe we can get to a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
After what you just said, it is obvious that you support the theme of the Floriade world exhibition that will take place in Almere this year. You also present this event as one of the highlights on your website. Have you prepared something special for this event?
Florint is not directly involved in the organisation of Floriade. But the exhibition is important to us because of its theme: 'Growing Green Cities’ and it is the vision of the future which we, as Florint, fully support. So we’re considering organising a meeting for our members there.
For sure we will promote and advertise this exhibition as we share the same values. Also, it is 60 years of the tradition of Floriade, so we can say it is a historical event already. Florint is only five years older. Yes, we will celebrate our 65thanniversary this year.
Do you have any moment you would like to organise this meeting?
We want to have a meeting during summertime. June or later in Autumn. This is because of the Europa Cup in late August this year. This year is quite challenging for us as we will have some changes within our structure. A few of the representatives of national member associations are retiring after years of hard work. And I thought to organise a big farewell event for them during the Essen fair, but as you know, it was cancelled. That is why the beginning of Floriade will for sure be an option for us. We are also very anxious to meet after so many years without seeing each other in person. We have not had the General Assembly since Oct 2019. Since that time, all our meetings have been online. I think we all miss the energy of a live meeting.
Are you expecting changes within the Florint organisation after the new members of the board are selected?
We need to wait for all the changes with an open mind. Changes are welcome. In the long term, they are always beneficial for the whole organisation. We are thinking positively. But changes are expected mainly on the national level, and then the member countries decide on that. Let us wait and see what time brings us.
You mentioned the Europa Cup. It was postponed several times already. We all hope it will finally take place and imagine this will be the case. What can we expect during this event?
I am sure it will take place. I do not think there will be something that can stand in the way of realising it. After two years, we know nearly everything about the virus. For sure we can take care of that issue during the Cup. Maybe there will be fewer competitors; initially we were expecting 30, but even with 20 we will still host world-class designers, guaranteeing a great show. We say we have been preparing for this event since 2016, so five years have passed in the meantime. It is so long, that I know everything will be perfect! We are expecting guests from all over the world, and I truly hope it will be possible for them to come. The main theme of the event is dance and music. That can only be joyful.
You said you started five years ago, but in the meantime, Covid had happened. You mentioned all the issues that are important right now, like nature, climate, sustainability. Did it have any influence on the program of the Europa Cup?
The theme has been the same since the beginning. All the tasks have stayed the same as they had been agreed initially. But alongside the championship itself, there are some side events. And these can vary from the main theme of the Cup. The pandemic is in the media every day and… it should stay there. During an event like the Europa Cup, flowers will take their prominent place on the podium for the whole duration of the championship.
We cannot change the nature of a flower;
we can only influence how it is presented.
End of part one.
The second part of the interview can be found here.
The interview was made in January 2022.
The Polish version of the text can be found here.
Simon Ogrizek: president of Florint, International Florist Organisation, in October 2021 chosen for the second term. President of Association for florists and gardeners by Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia; President of Education Committee by Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia; Member of the board by CEDEFOP (European Center for development of Vocational Training). Landscape designer and florist master, international judge in floristry.
Agnieszka Murawska: a graduate of German and Dutch philology at the University of Warsaw, and of agriculture at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Agricultural advisor at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a specialization in plant production. Initiator of the Florist Survey, co-organizer of the Royal Rose Exhibition at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.