King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima visited tree nursery Volentis in Opheusden in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands on Wednesday 29 May 2019. The nursery is one of the hundred and fifty members of Tree Centre Opheusden (TCO), an organization that brings together tree growers from the river area in the Netherlands.
It is no coincidence that the province of Gelderland put Tree Centre Opheusden forward for the royal visit. The tree nursery sector in Opheusden and the surrounding area has undergone major development in recent years and has had a very good year. The growers in the area have formed a strong organization. Many processes are mechanized with innovative systems and the growers play a major role with so-called climate trees. These trees are chosen for the changing climate – namely warmer weather, heavier rainfall and urban areas getting hotter. The growers of Tree Centre Opheusden help by sharing their knowledge of these matters.
The tree growers of TCO are modest about their work, but their trees are much sought after in Europe and far beyond. Harm Willemsen (25), deputy director of tree nursery Volentis, explained to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in their twenty-minute tour why it is that the Betuwe trees are found all over the world. Willemsen noticed that the royal couple were very knowledgeable about the importance of trees: The King himself talked about climate trees. He knew that having the right trees in a city can combat heat stress. He also knew that the thickness gauge for a tree is called a Tree Hug and knew the meaning of the colour codes.
For TCO the visit of the King and Queen is an acknowledgment of their hard work and the many developments that the sector has undergone in recent years. Chairman Kees van Rooijen is happy that he has been able to spread the message of TCO to the royal couple, namely making the world green. He was delighted that King and Queen were both present. A family atmosphere fits in with the family businesses that they have visited in the region. TCO’s technical adviser, Björn Kohlmann, is pleased that the province and now the royal couple have seen the great improvements the sector has made. This means that they understand the importance of our sector and how fast we are developing.
The royal couple naturally did not go home empty-handed. On behalf of TCO and Volentis, they received three grafts of ‘Winter Orange’, a variety of linden tree, so called because of the orange glow of the twigs in winter. “One for each of the princesses” explains Secretary Dekker. „They were very pleased with the gifts for their daughters“.