How can we exploit the combined brainpower of the Members' Council even better? Something Members’ Council member Matthijs Barendse enjoys thinking about. “With these forty members, we’ve got a wealth of expertise in house. That already has so many benefits, but there’s always room for improvement.”

I’ve been a member of the Council of Members since late 2020, before which I was a member of the regional council. As the company was busy, I took a step back for a couple of years, but then I found myself itching to get more involved. As a member of the Council of Members, I’m one of the first to hear the news. I also feel responsible for actively contributing to the cooperative. I often have an opinion on matters, which I like to use constructively through the Members’ Council.

Forty heads full of knowledge and experience

The Members’ Council consists of forty people, all businesspeople, and all with an opinion. The members are old hands in the trade, young people, from both small businesses and larger firms, Dutch and international, male and female. Together, we represent the grassroots membership. And as you’d expect, many people means many wishes. That leads to constructive discussions.

What I like about the Members’ Council is that we’ve got so much valuable knowledge and experience bundled in one place. Together, we know so much more than each of us alone. It would be great if we could put this to even greater usethan we do now.

Members’ Council Annual Planning

Those running a business plan the year ahead before it actually starts. This is perhaps even more true for us growers, as we’re dealing with a living product. Creating a high-quality product is a fine art. My proposal is to plan more in the Members’ Council; in other words, let’s think about what we put on the agenda and discuss for a year before the year begins. That could be because we already know what’s relevant at the time, but mainly because we foresee themes and topics that will affect us.

The big advantage of planning in this way is that it gives us more control. We’re less likely to be taken by surprise by events. Instead of reacting to what’s happening around us, we decide what’s important based on what we hear from the grassroots members. That would allow us to make even better use of our joint brainpower and protect our members’ interests in a more targeted way.

Sharing ideas

We resumed our physical member sessions in the autumn, and they were a breath of fresh air. We were finally able to sit down at the table again, and see and listen to each other. The sessions also provided me, as a member of the Members’ Council, with important input. Much of what was raised corresponded with what we discussed in the Members’ Council. The Members Council therefore still has a good sense of what’s important to members. That said, input remains important, so let us know if you have any questions and comments. You can also sign up to the Members’ Council, something I heartily recommend.

Stability in uncertain times

If in a year's time you ask me where we’re at, I'll probably tell you that it was yet another bizarre year. For this reason, it’s even more important that we stay flexible by organising ourselves well, so that we know what’s important to our members and our cooperativeand so that we always work well with the company and the supervisory board. For example, by further expanding Floriday with a clear revenue model to guarantee the added value of our cooperative for growers and buyers, and make Floriway a success together. Combining everything we see, hear and desire in a constructive approach is the key to remaining strong, even in an uncertain market.

We regularly publish a column from the Members’ Council in which a member of the Council discusses what they’re working on, along with some observations and news about developments. This time, it’s the turn of Members' Council member Matthijs Barendse. Matthijs is co-owner of nursery Arends in Paterswolde, where he grows lavender and ornamental grasses.

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