“A family reunion!” is how the Fleuroselect Annual Member Convention is described by many of the participants. This year, about 100 delegates from 16 countries gathered in Kassel, Germany, for the AGM and to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the world. The German seed breeder Benary hosted the event following its 175th anniversary celebrations.
Matthias Redlefsen, MD of Benary, provided delegates with valuable insights into the German flower industry. The German pro-capita consumption of flowers is the highest in the world, probably thanks to cultural traditions such as balcony flower and flower beds instead of concrete memorials in cemeteries. But, Redlefsen warned, breeders will need courage and creativity to successfully tackle the future.
Klaudia Benary-Redlefsen, sixth generation and current owner of Benary together with her uncle Ernst-Günter Benary, gave an overview of the company's rich history. The story of her grandfather Fritz Benary, who left East Germany to build a company in the west, is a striking example of perseverance. Today, Benary sells more than 10 billion flower seeds a year –90% of them exported – and its turnover has doubled in the past 13 years.
During the AGM, Clover Seed from Hong Kong was welcomed as a new member. As well as importing and exporting seed, Clover supplies contract production of vegetable and flower bulk seeds for overseas companies in China. The Clover laboratory focuses on plant pathology and marker development.
A full day was spent at Benary, where delegates were able to to view the extensive trials field with its spectacular beds. Benary also planted a full gold medal and novelty trial.
The event culminated at the Alte Brüderkirche in Kassel for the gala dinner, where traditionally the Gold Medals are handed out. Three varieties were honoured for 2020.
Jean-François Ignasse, sales manager (Europe) at PanAmerican Seed together with Anne Leventry, President PanAmerican Seed and Ruud Brinkkemper, general manager Kieft Seed Europe, stepped forward to accept the medal for Leucanthemum superbum ‘Madonna’. Irma Jansen, account and product manager home gardening at Takii Europe received the Medal for Tropaeolum minus ‘Baby Rose’. Fleuroselect president Karol Pawlak and marketing & communications manager Ann Jennen accepted the Medal for Silene pendula ‘Sibella Carmine’ on behalf of Rob van der Voort of Van Hemert & Co. who was unable to attend.
The final highlight of the evening was the announcement of two new honorary members – Jacques de Vroomen, former owner of Muller Seeds, was treasurer in 2007 when he re-structured the finances to create the vibrant organisation we see today. Jean-François Ignasse of PanAmerican has entered numerous new varieties for the trials over the years and served as interim president.
Next year's convention (30 June-2 July) will be in Amsterdam, where the central theme will be Fleuroselect's 50th anniversary.