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Traveling Dutch flower bulb salesmen spread fame of industry abroad

Nature’s array of colours exemplified in numerous hybrids

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

Just picture it. You are an entrepreneur, one of many, who depends on a very popular product but also with one for which there are just not enough customers at home because of the enormous quantities you have for sale. So you take your samples throughout Europe and England, but the number of orders are still insufficient to take all of your inventory. Then they tell you, did you try the United States and Canada yet? So you book passage on an ocean liner to find customers abroad, including some Dutch immigrants.

Now looking back, we know that for the past century or so, North America has become a very important market for Dutch bulb growers with many of them setting up a subsidiary or branch in this lucrative market. The changing demographics at the turnstiles of the Keukenhof confirm that the interest in the flowering bulb has also spread throughout the Far East and now even India.

While the Dutch flower industry attracts attention abroad, the circumstances at home are continually evolving. Its flowering bulb component is still concentrated in the Bollenstreek (the Bulb growing region), because it is there where its support system is located, but increasingly growers find suitable land throughout many parts of the country where to grow their crop. Farmers often welcome the opportunity to lease their land for a year to a bulb grower, netting a good lease return and looking for improvements to the soil as an added benefit.

The Bollenstreek itself is under the pressure of an ever increasing encroachment caused by new residential districts and business parks. Less space for bulb growing when the growers are actually looking for larger acreages. The space taken up by flowering bulbs in the Bollenstreek and its adjoining Duinstreek is no more than 2700 hectare, about ten percent of the total.

To obtain the entire 3-page illustrated article on the Bollenstreek, request a copy of the March 23, 2012 issue of The Windmill Herald (as long as supply lasts).