Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I am writing this from the Amsterdam, Netherlands airport. Bags were packed early this morning, breakfast eaten not long after. When we were finished it was time to load luggage onto the bus. It took awhile with 70+ people traveling.

Even though this is the last day in Holland meetings were not finished. We traveled to Koeppert Cress Monster. My initial thought was it might be a cousin to the Loch Ness Monster. However, "Monster" means sample.

This business is a greenhouse that sells high end plants for cooking. They grow them right there and have a kitchen that is also set up as a studio. Top chefs come there to learn how to use these plants and how special they can be for culinary masterpieces.

Our time there started with a speaker talking about marketing agriculture products to the public. His presentation was pure gold for a farmer to utilize if they want to market their crops directly.

After that it was time for lunch. I skipped out on the question portion to take pictures of a meal that you would pay a fortune for in a restaurant. Each item was centered around a plant that was grown in the greenhouse. 

The meal was started off by being handed a test tube of a lemon grass drink. Even though it looked nasty it was very refreshing and delicious. Then we had a free for included.

During lunch a person showed up that looked kind of suspect. However he was very interesting to talk to and his profession was a plant explorer. He travels around the world searching for plants that are rare and for ones that have unique characteristics for cooking.

He was a virtual encyclopedia of plants. It was amazing at his memory of the scientific name of plants, where seeds can be obtained, and who the contact for a certain plant was. Interestingly enough he has been to Moscow, Idaho.

Then we listened to the owner of Koeppert Cress, Rob Baan. He owns a movie studio and is also a farmer. He talked to us about his business and were given different plants to sample. One tasted like oysters. That was very interesting.

Rob then took us on a tour through his green house operation that is state of the art. What he has been able to do is find the light spectrum to make them grow the best and then they are shipped all over the world.

After that we headed directly to Amsterdam and the airport. Checked my luggage in without any overweight fees and got through customs fine. I finally was able to find power to charge my laptop to take pictures off the camera card .

Had a Big Mac, fries, and a coke and went through security. The plane ride was good and I was able to catch a cat nap to take the edge off. 

Made it through customs at London Heathrow (it is huge) and onto the bus. I am finishing the blog at a Holiday Inn with my same roommate. I gained an hour so there is only an 8 hour difference. It is now 1:30am and the alarm is set for 5:30...going to be a long day tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Dang 5am comes early when only having minimal sleep the day before. Wake up call was 5am to be on the bus by 6. We grabbed out box breakfast and headed out to the flower auction. It is dark when we arrive at Flora Holland, the larges flower auction in the world.

We drive around for awhile and then disembark the bus. We head upstairs for some coffee, chatting, and dividing into groups to go on the tour. I could not believe how insainly large this auction was. We are given headphones and a power pack to listen to our guide and head out.

We go onto a walkway above the working part of the flower warehouse. I can't believe how many flowers there are and the variety. The floor looks like an anthill that someone stuck a stick into. Things are moving everywhere.

We do the tour and then head into the conference room to listen to a board member of the Flora Holland Co-op. This is the 100th anniversary of the first flower auction in the world. We spent most of the day in the conference room listening to experts talk about co-ops and then doing a couple group exercises.

From there we get back on the bus and make our way to the Port of Rotterdam for a dinner cruise. What a great time being with the Nuffield Scholars and seeing the sights of one of the busiest ports in the world. We also saw the largest dry dock in the world as well. There are cranes there that look like an erector set on major steroids.

All of the ships, tugs, and containers is something of the likes I have never seen. I can't imagine how much money is in the infrastructure let alone all of the containers and products that are waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

Well, we got back to the hotel around 10pm after starting at long day. It almost felt like it was harvest time with those hours. I am finishing up my picture processing and getting ready to head for bed for another early cock-a-doodle-doo. I will try my best to keep up with the posts.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New World Travels to the Old World

I know that it has been awhile since last writing. I have traveled to Chicago, Boise (3 times) and Washington, D.C. along with getting things done. Oh, Christmas and New Years was in there as well.

Right now I am on another adventure in my Fellowship life. I and the other 2011 Eisenhower Ag Fellow (Rhett Proctor) were invited to attend the Nuffield Scholars Contemporary Scholars Conference in Holland and the UK.

I left home Friday morning from Lewiston (5:30am flight) via Salt Lake, Detroit, and then Amsterdam, Netherlands (Holland). I arrived at 6am (9 pm home) and sailed through customs. I was also lucky enough to have my suitcase be one of the first 10 onto the carousel.

Schipol airport is home to the largest Burger King in the world. I also knew I was in Holland when I saw a large bronze sculpture of a clog. From he airport I took the train to Rotterdam and a cab to the hotel. I checked in, unpacked some, Skyped home, and tried to sleep. It felt good to get horizontal for a little. I was just getting to sleep when my roomate from Tasmania walked in.

We chatted for awhile and got to know each other a little. We both changed to get ready for our tour of Holland with the other Scholars from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, and Holland. We hopped on the bus and headed to the aiport to pick up the ones that were coming in at noon.

After picking them up we toured through Holland and stopped at a little fishing/tourist village for some pickled herring. I was able to take some good picts and see a shop where you stick your feet into a tank and have fish "kiss" them.

From there we went to a 150 head dairy. It also produces energy with large windmills and biofuel from dairy waste. A housed generator produced the energy for the dairy. They also had a settling pond and extracted the water from the solids, which were dropped into a pile for future use as compost.

That night we had a dinner with all sitting at tables. It was informal, but a good chance to get to know each other. I left there around 9:30 (been up 33 hours with just a 1/2 hour of nap in that time) and went to bed.

With our schedule I don't know when I can write again and have to cut this short to head for lunch and today's functions. Take care and keep it in the fence rows!