3 Questions to: Sonja Dümmen (Dümmen GmbH)

The Rheinberg-based company Dümmen Group is consistently expanding its sustainability strategy. In future they will supply fair trade poinsettias under the Red Fox brand to their international pot plant producers. Thus Dümmen will answer the widely shared desire for an ethical, transparent production chain. Sonja Dümmen is Head of Marketing at Dümmen GmbH and is managing the Fairtrade project.

Mrs. Dümmen, what are the reasons why the Dümmen Group will soon be selling poinsettias from your farm Red Fox Ethiopia as a Fairtrade product?
Dümmen: The Fairtrade Mark renders visible our way of working and what we represent. It records monitored working conditions and a responsible approach to plant protection and the environment. What is most important, however, is that it provides support for the people locally in Ethiopia. With Fairtrade we have the opportunity to invest 10% of the turnover directly on the ground for the benefit of the people there. The consumers who make a conscious decision to buy here support this initiative by purchasing Fairtrade products.

How can we visualise the certification process? What are the challenges?
Dümmen: All partners in the chain have to be certified, starting with the parent plant production site in Ethiopia, which is inspected by an independent certification organisation. Other links in the chain also have to be certified, however, such as the production plant in Rheinberg and the producers in Europe that raise the poinsettia cuttings. Since we run the production chain centrally, from cultivation to the finished young plant, this is entirely feasible. We only have to create transparency for third parties, which naturally always entails administrative work.

What specific advantages do you see for retailers, nurseries and last but not least for customers?
Dümmen: The advantages for the retail trade are quite clear and are to be found in the transparency of the supply chain. It can always trace Fairtrade products back to their origin and rely on the fact that reliable, inspected suppliers are behind the product. The consumer can buy responsibly and help people in Africa by buying Fairtrade. Transparency is important here too. The customer sees where the cutting comes from, but also who has raised the product to its finished state in Germany or Europe. The customer is also informed about the advantages for our partner businesses: ten percent of the revenue from the cut-tings is for the workers locally in the country of origin to use as they see fit for social purposes. The monitored production conditions create transparency and guarantee a fair process.

Further information: dummengroup.com

3 questions to: Viktoria von dem Bussche (Ippenburg Castle Festivals)

Ippenburg Castle is located at the fringe of the North German Plain, an astonishing landscape with numerous meadows and parks. For 600 years the castle has been owned by the family von dem Bussche. More than 15 years ago the lady of the castle, Viktoria Freifrau von dem Bussche, established the very first garden festival in Germany. Since then the castle gates are open four times a year to visitors. Up to today the extraordinary festivals by Viktoria von dem Bussche have an immense influence on at least the German gardening scene.

Mrs. von dem Bussche, how did the idea of organizing garden festivals came about?
Von dem Bussche:
I have always been amazed by the garden festivals in the Netherlands and in England. Magnificent display gardens and stalls with flowers, seeds and bulbs lured in gardening enthusiasts from all over the world. This has never existed in Germany. This is why I organized my own first festival. I leaped right into the deep water! By now the Ippenburg Festivals have grown from an insider tip to firmly established events. This is the result of lots of commitment, passion and hard work.

Have you always been fascinated by gardening?
Von dem Bussche:
No, not at all! When I was a young girl you couldn’t get me to do chores in the garden. I wasn’t fascinated at first. But I played a lot in our gardens in the Lüneburg Heath. My love for gardens started to develop when I got married to my husband and moved to Ippenburg Castle.

What can visitors expect from the Ippenburg Festivals in 2014?
Von dem Bussche:
The season starts on April 12th and 13th with the Daffodil Festival and the Spring Market. The Tulip Splendour, which is going to be from May 1st to 4th, will have an exclusive international plant market for the first time. . I know from my own experience how hard it can be to find specific plants, so I want to present a broad plant assortment of highest quality from international dealers to the festival visitors. And the atmosphere between thousands of tulips will be fantastic! The highlight of this year will be the Garden Joy and Country Pleasures Festival from July 3rd to 6th. There you can experience the Rosarium 2000+ in full splendor. At harvest time we celebrate the Autumn Country Festival, from September 6th to 7th. That’s the time when the kitchen garden is ripe with fruit, vegetables and thousands of flowers.

Further Information: ippenburg.de 

3 questions to: Nina Ruthe-Klein (NIRUK)

The design studio NIRUK finds balance between experiments, aesthetics and different materials. Their latest “made by NIRUK” products offered in their online shop are made in collaboration with designer David Antonin and can be characterised as “sociable and cozy”: The mobile baby’s high chair “LirumLarum” for outdoor areas and the “StammTisch” that turns a tree or a lantern into a bar table. Nina Ruthe-Klein is the founder of NIRUK and answered a few questions for us.

“LirumLarum” and “StammTisch” are products for mobile people who spend a lot of time outside. Are you planning on specialising your products for the garden- and outdoor-sector?

We are manufacturing products for the everyday use, indoor and outdoor alike. Of course it’s great when they work in both environments and can be used by people who are very flexible. We had the idea for “StammTisch” in spring because this is the time when I get my workshop outside and start new projects. I love to “live outside”. It’s great to work surrounded by fresh air and natural light, a perfect contrast to the work in the office. Especially now after the winter months I am looking forward to it.

What are you working on right now?

There are many projects at the same time right now – and they all are very exciting! My personal theme for the products I am developing now is ‘picnic’. We had lots of inspirations last year and many ideas for new products evolved. We are now discussing what prototypes we’re going to build next.

Do you plan have any other way of distribution besides your website?

Because of the last presentations we did we had many requests and we will expand our distribution channels, but it is too early to talk about it in detail. Right now you can buy our products at our online-shop.

Further Information: niruk.de

3 questions to: Çağla Işin Alemdar (Garden Igloo)

Among the many eye-catchers at spoga+gafa 2013 were the two cosy looking igloos in hall 9. We sat down in one of them and spoke to Çağla Işin Alemdar from Istanbul, who designed the Garden Igloo and is now distributing them from Berlin.

This igloo is so spacious; we can stand upright and walk around. What did you have in mind when designing the Garden Igloo?
The idea behind the Garden Igloo is to get a multi-purpose dome in the garden that is easy to build and can be used throughout the whole year. There are so many applications and target groups! You can use it to relax during the daytime and there is enough space for a lounger, a table and several seats, so that your friends can join in the evening. It can also be a playground for children and people are even using it as cover for their Jacuzzi in the winter. Also, the Garden Igloo can be used by hobby gardeners as a greenhouse to grow plants or as a garden shed.

You said it can be used all year round. So the igloo can be kept outside no matter how the weather is?
Yes, depending on which of the exchangeable covers you use it keeps cool in summer and protects from cold in winter. Snow glides off and because of its geodesic shape it can cope with wind speeds of up to 120 km/h. The standard package comes with the Light Canopy Cover and the transparent Winter Garden Cover. Additionally there are other covers available, for example the Green House Cover, the Camouflage Cover or the Mosquito-Net Cover. All materials are 100% recyclable. 

Do you need professional help to put up the Garden Igloo?
No, you can do it easily on your own! The package comes with a manual and you don’t need any tools for the installation. On our website we have a video that shows two of our guys putting the igloo up in less than 18 minutes.

Further Information: gardenigloo.com

3 questions to: Steve Shrimpton (Bean Bag Crazy)

Steve Shrimpton founded Bean Bag Crazy in England together with his son Joe. They design and produce bean bags.

How did you come up with the idea for Bean Bag Crazy?
Ususally I sell cushions. I am the managing director of JTS Cushions in England and one day me and my son had the idea for a reinvention of the bean bag. Our B-Bags are extremely comfortable and durable at the same time, and they come in lots of fresh colours. They can be used by everybody, indoors and outdoors.

Why did you choose the garden unique area for your exhibition?
We are already successfully selling the B-Bags in England and we now want to expand into the continental market. I visited the spoga+gafa in 2012 and the garden unique area here made a huge impression on me with its great design pieces. I thought, we have a unique product, so garden unique is just the right thing for us.

Do you offer any other products besides the B-bags?
The B-Bags come in eleven colours and three different sizes: mini, mighty and monster. Besides that we also have a quilted version and a prehistoric one with fur on it. There is also a table that doubles as storage and a seat box for your feet.

Further Information: beanbagcrazy.co.uk and gardenunique.de