The 10 most important lessons for food horticulture

01-08-2020    12:02   |    Goedemorgen

Last week saw the tenth and last interactive session of the EAT THIS webinar series. Together with NethWork we look back on a successful series, bursting with inspiration and new insights concerning the ‘future of food’ by visionaries from – and more particularly – outside the horticultural sector.

On 6 May, architect Rem Koolhaas was the first to step onto the digital stage, followed by nine other world-class speakers. Below, we would like to share the most important lessons presented by these speakers, who showcased their vision of how horticulture can make its position future-proof.


#1 Connectivity within the sector and with society

Rem Koolhaas opened EAT THIS with a sharp diagnosis on international horticulture: ‘The sector is doing well on many themes, but it lacks “connectivity”. The themes are loose dots that need to be connected in order to find answers to the questions posed by society.’


#2 Let go of existing assumptions and ask the right questions

Clemens Driessen (a philosopher affiliated with Wageningen UR) emphasized that if the horticultural sector were to let go of assumptions and start asking those questions that are most important again, it can search for meaning and develop business models based on this.


#3 Develop a plan (vision)

Meiny Prins (CEO of Priva) added to the above that answers only have an effect if they are based on a clear vision. Her vision and solution for the Sustainable Urban Delta is an example of this.


#4 Don’t focus on only one solution; the future demands customization

Henry Gordon Smith (Managing Director of Agritecture) stated that realizing future food production systems is custom work that requires an open mind and diversity.


#5 When attracting talent, opt for diversity

According to Dave Chen (CEO of Equilibrium), the international food system will change dramatically, and that capital will be playing a decisive in this during the next ten years. The horticultural sector can only survive if it is able to attract the right talent.


#6 Dare to look at things from a different perspective and acknowledge the power of the outsider

Anthropologist Jitske Kramer focused on the fact that, apart from economic laws, human values also have an impact. According to her, connecting cultures and looking at one’s own sector from a different perspective is decisive for business success – and sustainable business success in particular.


#7 Develop a credible, honest story; facts alone are not enough

Ecomodernist Hidde Boersma added to Jitske Kramer’s talk by saying that it’s not about facts alone. Having a credible, honest story is of paramount importance.


#8 Connect with groups in society and engage them

To Erin Fitzgerald (CEO of the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance), this means making clear choices. She seeks connectivity with the different groups in our society.


#9 Go in search of universal, human themes: ‘Touch the hearts and change the minds’

Jasper Claus of 1Camera managed to capture this for Fitzgerald’s organization in the impressive 30 Harvests, a documentary linking the story of food and food production to universal, human themes.


#10 Take the initiative; the sector is part of the solution to social issues

Berry Marttin (member of the Rabobank Executive Board) sees international food production as part of the solution to the climate problem, in which individual and collective responsibility is borne not only by companies, but also by governments and citizens.



Marttin proposed to reach a new agreement in Paris, following the example of the climate treaty, but which focuses on food and the entire chain. In doing so, he underlined the importance of international connectivity, the theme with which Rem Koolhaas opened the EAT THIS series. Following on the success of this webinar series, the organizers decided that this initiative will be continued in this autumn to enable the international dialogue to continue.


Information about EAT THIS! and recoded sessions can be accessed via the button below.


Watch the recordings here.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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