Jacintha Scheerder is a futurologist who works for Let it Grow, Royal FloraHolland’s initiative aimed at letting people discover the value of plants and flowers by helping promising green start-ups. Most of these start-ups have created new floral internet applications for urban societies. Jacintha explains some future signals of change and the green possibilities they bring.
Futurologist, not trend watcher
“Trend watchers look five to ten years ahead. I scientifically focus on what could happen in 35 years. Not predicting but scouting signals of change with a possible influence on major long-term challenges. Six of them, climate change, scarcity (of water, energy and soil), longer life, global power shifts, demographic change and new connectivity will lead to worldwide changes and provide opportunities to the green sector. For instance, the Chinese want to lead the world in supplying solar energy globally. But one of our start-ups has already developed a plant that emits energy when you touch it!”
Growing vegetables in Seoul
“In Seoul they’ve built an Urban Skyfarm to commercially grow fruits and vegetables in a vertical design. It can feed an entire city. Sales are done on the ground floor and no soil is needed so the construction can be relatively light.
But nowadays you can grow cresses in small boxes with its own lighting and automatic watering system. Cresses are very tasteful and nutritious and a commercial success for one of our start-ups.”
Loss of faith
“People are becoming increasingly more conscious of what they consume. They want to take matters into their own hands and know what’s in their food and flowers. So by developing a tile with a hole in it in which you can plant a weed, as if it were a ‘real’ plant, one start-up created a new market: greening up your city your own way, with stuff we already have.”
“Many start-ups developed new internet applications with green links, for example, sensors which tell you when and how to take care for your house or garden plants (or your park or your crop). Tailor-made packages of house and garden plants with care and handling apps. And the best is yet to come. In working for Let it Grow I see more chances to be green in a new, challenging globalizing world.”