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

The Green Room in Ludwigsburg

The Green Room in Ludwigsburg is part of the EU research project “TURAS”, which has the goal to find out, how cities and other regions can be made sustainable for the future.

Especially in tight metropolises with lots of heavily sealed surfaces, the installation of planted vertical construction elements, for example green facades and green roofs, is a significant help to increase the overall green area.

In spring 2014, the Green Room was officially introduced in Ludwigsburg on the Rathaushof. The walls of this room are made from planted cube elements in different sizes, filled with substrate. About 7.000 plants are growing out of the cubes and the roof is made from plane trees. The result is a green oasis in the middle of the city, where people can cool down and relax.

The construction of the Green Room has been realised by the German company Helix Pflanzen GmbH. An automatic irrigation system waters the 140 m² of new green space with rainwater.

Further information: turas-cities.eu and helix-pflanzen.de

Videogröße: 500 x 281

Segers: Modular Chicken Coop & Garden Makes You a Poultry Farmer

The numbers of people who engage in urban gardening and urban farming are rising. Growing vegetables and fruit can be a sustainable occupation for smaller areas but this also goes for the keeping of livestock. A modular system from design studio Segers makes it possible.

The Modular Chicken Coop & Garden offers space for several chickens and plants. The system includes a shed for chickens or small pets, raised beds for vegetables, a composting bin, and a tool shed. The modules can be stacked together individually. The Modular Chicken Coop is great for urban farmers who want to be self sustainable with limited space and for families or schools who want to teach children where vegetables and eggs come from.

Studio Segers is a two-generation-company from Belgium. It was founded by graphic designer Rita Westhovens and product designer Wim Segers in 1989. In 2009 their son Bob Segers (product designer) and Marjan Brants (graphic designer) joined the design team.

Further Information: studiosegers.be

European Commission Publishes Brochure to Promote Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure can be broadly defined as a planned network of high quality natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features, which is designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services and protect biodiversity in both rural and urban settings. An area with green infrastructure fosters a better quality of life, improves biodiversity, protects against climate change and encourages a smarter, more integrated approach to an efficient development. 

The European Commission addresses the potentials of green infrastructure in a new brochure “Building a Green Infrastructure for Europe”. The benefits of a greener environment are explained and exemplary case studies are presented.

The Commission has adopted a green infrastructure strategy, ‘to promote the deployment of green infrastructure in the EU in urban and rural areas’. The strategy is made up of four main elements, which are presented in detail in the brochure:

  • Promoting green infrastructure in the main EU policy areas
  • Supporting EU-level green infrastructure projects
  • Improving access to finance for GI projects
  • Improving information and promoting innovation

Further Information and free download of the brochure: Environment in the European Commission


FishPlant: Raise Fish and Grow Plants with Aquaponics

In times of excessive use of natural resources, people are compelled to think about new ways of growing food. The soil we grow our plants on is limited and the amount of animals we can hunt is shrinking. There is an acute threat of overfishing the oceans and the populations of many fish species cannot recover anymore. At the same time breeding fish costs lots of energy and creates waste.

One solution to these problems could be Aquaponics. Aquaponics combines the techniques of aquaculture and hydroponics to save energy and waste, by growing vegetables and fruit and breeding fish in the same enclosed artificial ecosystem. The idea is that the waste produced by the fish can be used to provide nutrients for the plants. The fish provide waste that is converted into nutrients by bacteria. The nutritious water is then given to the plants, which helps them grow. At the same time the water is being cleaned by the plants and the rest is given back to the fish. This way water is saved and there is no need for soil, clay pebbles or a similar recyclable substrate is used instead.

Aquaponics is primarily applied by professional breeders, but the British company FishPlant offers a solution for private customers who want to give it a try. The FishPlant system includes everything necessary for starters. The water distribution between the fish tank and the plant bed is based on a “Flood & Drain” system and works with an automatic siphon. There are two variants of the FishPlant right now: The Family Unit with 300 litres of water can keep up to 3,5 kilogram of fish and is geared towards private breeders and growers. The Production Unit with 800 litres can keep up to 7 kilogram of fish and is geared towards hotels and restaurants.

It is possible to breed edible fish as well as ornamental fish in the FishPlant. The company gives Tilapia, Carp, Trout and Perch as examples for food fish and Goldfish and even the precious Koi as ornamental fish species.

Further Information: fishplant.co.uk