When viewed nationally, with its small membership of 160 members, the TCO is a small association; however, the Betuwe growers are used to solving their own problems and are fervently attached to their independence. With a large number of volunteers in the TCO working groups, the organisation is capable of achieving a great deal. The EXPO is a good example of this. The four TCO workgroups form the cylinders of the engine block. The active study club is responsible for propagating knowledge, and with its website, press releases and newsletters, TCO raises the international reputation of the avenue tree centre.
The joining of forces in the Laanboompact (Avenue Tree Pact)
TCO has been working with local authorities and industry representatives in the Laanboompact (Avenue Tree Pact) in the Gelderland river area for ten years. The short lines of communication with councils and provinces ensure mutual understanding and an efficient decision-making process. This has led to the establishment of the Agro Business Centre, a 13 ha business park set up especially for the services supporting the avenue tree nursery sector. Included in the plan for the centre is an Avenue Tree House and a show garden with international appeal.
Impact on policy in Brussels and The Hague
TCO is keen to collaborate with Anthos, the association of bulb and tree growers and with the LTO’s Avenue and Ornamental Trees Culture Group. Both national organisations ensure that tree growers have access to domestic and international policy. The members identify the bottlenecks in their nurseries and the TCO working groups turn them into project ideas, ensuring optimal use of the budgets available in the sector.
By joining forces, the tree growers have been able to achieve a great deal. The trees website where all growers put their stock on is a medium from which everyone can reap the benefits. It provides a quick insight into where two-way trade is being conducted. Many large organisations look admiringly at TCO’s level of organisation and its decisiveness. TCO’s engine sets the pace and its members provide the fuel.
Kees van Rooijen, Chair of the TCO Daily Board