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In the garden with: Armin Rehberg (Landgard eG)

8 Mar 2019

 Armin Rehberg – Photo: Landgard

Armin Rehberg – Photo: Landgard

Armin Rehberg has been the CEO of Landgard, Germany’s largest marketing producer cooperative for flowers and plants, fruit and vegetables, since mid-2013. Since his appointment he has consistently asserted himself for the implementation of modern, future-looking ideas and projects, such as for the development and establishment of the seals “German Gardening Goods” and “German tastes” as certificates of origin and quality. The advertising initiative “Flowers – 1000 good reasons” or the “Cash & Carry future market Herongen” belong to the milestones on the way to success. In October 2018, the expert jury of the Taspo Award distinguished the business graduate and manager for his services to the green industry and the cooperative as “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Mr Rehberg, one criterion that was among others emphasised for you being voted as “Entrepreneur of the Year” was Landgard’s commitment to the environment and sustainability. Which focuses do you place here?

Rehberg: For Landgard sustainability is a matter of conviction and an issue close to our hearts, there is simply no alternative. Handling the limited natural resources sparingly and taking on responsibility for nature and the society are an integral part of our value system. In this connection we have been working closely together with environmental organisations and NGOs such as the German Nature Protection Association (NABU) and the Global Nature Fund (GNF) as well as the Lake Constance Foundation (Bodenseestiftung) for years already. Since 2015, we have been bundling all respective activities within our sustainability strategy, which comprises of the four pillars “Green products”, “Climate, energy and environment”, “Employees” and “Society”. Together with our member companies we constantly increase the share of sustainably produced items that are cultivated at a level that goes far beyond the integrated standard. Here the entire value chain is under focus. This includes for instance resource-saving production strategies in terms of the implementation of water, energy or other operating materials or the development of sustainability concepts that promote biodiversity. Together with the member companies we look for new packing solutions, in order to replace for example conventional plastic plant pots with recycling plastics or biodegradable materials long-term. Other projects are about saving packing materials among others through measures like “Natural Branding” or the use of sealing film. 

Sustainability has however many further facets at Landgard: For instance we sell extremely insect-friendly summer plants under the license “Biene Maja”. Garden friends can use these products as a contribution towards helping important stocks of bees to survive and to increase the varieties of species. In the scope of the project “Our school garden”, the Landgard Foundation supplies primary schools with raised flowerbeds, plants and all important utensils for one’s own school garden as well as extensive educational material every year. The pupils create the raised flowerbeds on their own with the support of our experts and experience directly how fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers grow and flourish.

Furthermore, since 2017 the sustainability weeks have been taking place yearly at Landgard under the motto “Deeds instead of words!”. Here, together with employees, customers and partners we demonstrate nationwide how many different facets the theme has within our agricultural cooperative. The focus here lies on projects revolving around the four pillars of our sustainability strategy. We have already experienced great success resulting from our commitment in this area: One example is the concept “Iss so” (Eat right) from our fruit and vegetable division, with which Landgard asserts itself in a targeted manner for the sale of fruit and vegetables that have indeed suffered external damage through environmental factors such as hailstones or storms, but which are still nevertheless high-quality and fresh. This also convinced the consumers, retail trade and expert jury of the German Sustainability Prize, they namely voted “Iss So” as one of the three most sustainable products in Germany, which meant they were nominees and ultimately winners of the German Sustainability Prize 2018. Furthermore, “Iss So” was distinguished as the overall and public’s winner at the Green Product Award 2018 and was the only product from the green industry that was able to assert itself against over 400 submitted entries from 25 countries according to the criteria “design, innovation and sustainability”. Alongside “Iss So”, the “Our school garden” project also won a Green Product Award in the category “Children”.

Landgard has been working on a new product line of flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables together with the German boxing legend Axel Schulz since the start of the year. How did this cooperation come about and what are your expectations?

Rehberg: It evolved over a joint meal and a few bottles of red wine (laughs). No seriously – Landgard has been successfully setting new impulses for the green industry through the connection between green products and famous ambassadors from public life. Our aim is to inspire people again and again for flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables. We are currently continuing this recipe for success with the amicable box legend, Axel Schulz. He was convinced about our mad ideas for “AXEL’s shiners” in the flower and plant section as well as “AXEL’s gum shield” for fruit and vegetable from the very start and he is a perfect partner for Landgard. Last, but not least because with his unique manner Axel Schulz’s stands for an honest and authentic presence with plenty of humour and a big heart. This reflects precisely what we want to convey with our new joint products. We want to tell stories and reach young people – sometimes using mad and different ways.

You occupy yourself the whole day with horticulture products. Do you actually have fruit, vegetables and flowers in your own garden? Or do you prefer to use it as a place for barbecues and chilling out?

Rehberg: I tried my hand at a herb garden with my daughter and a vine garden with my son and unfortunately failed totally on both occasions due to my lack of time. Today, I have a gardener, who is much better at it than me and I can use the garden to chill out and for BBQs.

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