Cologne: 16.–18.06.2024 #spogagafa

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An interview with Stefan Lohrberg, Director of spoga+gafa

"Responsibility gains importance in the garden"

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spoga+gafa as the biggest garden and BBQ trade fair in the world brings companies from the garden lifestyle industry and trade visitors from all over the globe together in Cologne every year. The next spoga+gafa is being staged from 16 to 18 June 2024 — under the key theme "Responsible Gardens". Together with the green industry, the leading trade fair will place the centre of attention on the different levels of responsible behaviour in and around private green spaces.

Stefan Lohrberg, Director of spoga+gafa. © Koelnmesse

Stefan Lohrberg, Director of spoga+gafa (Bild: Koelnmesse)

Key theme as a consistent continuation

Mr Lohrberg, why did you choose this key theme?

On the one hand, the new key theme is a logical and consistent continuation of our past key themes. spoga+gafa has already been staged under an overriding key topic that takes the current industry developments and socially-relevant topics into account since 2017. In an increasingly connected world, where individual actions can have a far-reaching impact, the role of personal and collective responsibility in meeting global challenges becomes more and more important. That means we have to consider the effects of our decisions for the community and the environment. Manufacturers, the trade, consumers — we all have to be aware of the impact of our actions. So it was a logical step to also place the focus on the theme responsibility at spoga+gafa 2024 — in the form of the key topic "Responsible Gardens".

Different levels of responsibility

How should responsibility be interpreted? What levels are there?

The theme responsibility is all too quickly associated with sustainability or equated with it. But in our opinion responsibility is much more. On the one hand, it contributes towards minimising environmental impacts, reducing the consumption of resources and maintaining the ecological diversity. On the other hand, it promotes social justice and economic stability because it aims to bring about a balanced distribution of resources and opportunities. Overall, the theme responsibility plays a fundamental role in creating a liveable society that is stable long-term. Hence, our key theme Responsible Gardens should also be considered at different levels: from social challenges, to health aspects, through to ultimately the actual product in the garden.

The latest garden trends at spoga+gafa (Image: Koelnmesse)

As the largest garden and BBQ trade fair, spoga+gafa showcases the latest garden trends every year. © Koelnmesse

The role of spoga+gafa

What is the job of spoga+gafa as the biggest garden and BBQ trade fair? Which role does the trade fair take on?

Our aim as the biggest garden and BBQ fair is that all of the players of the green industry become aware of the responsibility their bear towards society and the environment as companies, product manufacturers, dealers, multipliers and as consumers when designing and using balconies, gardens, terraces or open spaces. Together with the exhibitors and the visitors, spoga+gafa 2024 will find individual answers to questions that arise from this key topic. Since the more responsibly we handle private green spaces, the more social and personal relevance our gardens, balconies and terraces gain.

Shared responsibility of the green industry

What responsibility does the whole green industry have to take on within society?

Resource-saving gardening, fairly produced garden products, low-emission BBQ technologies, climate-friendly garden care and irrigation, but also a responsible rapport between garden owners will be especially emphasised at spoga+gafa 2024. The aspects of the key topic will be presented and discussed in various formats at the trade fair. For example in the case of the manufacturers and producers it is about the responsibility they take on through their products, the production location, the production methods and the materials used. With the dealers, it is among others about how they present the theme on their space. Here the focus lies on environmentally friendly, sustainable and fairly produced or ergonomic products. And taking this a step further, the trade has to make sure its staff is trained properly, i.e. the customer service, for instance regarding natural garden design and how to handle garden tools correctly.

Responsibility is becoming increasingly important in the gardening industry. (Image: Koelnmesse)

Responsibility is becoming increasingly important in the garden industry for various reasons. © Koelnmesse

Growing importance of responsibility

As in the past, spoga+gafa is totally on trend with the theme "Responsible Gardens". Couldn't one even say spoga+gafa creates the trends of the green industry?

Responsibility is gaining significance in the garden industry for several reasons. With the growing awareness for environmental issues such as the climate change, species extinction and the scarcity of resources, both the companies and the consumers are recognising the necessity to act more environmentally friendly. This also includes sustainable cultivation methods, protecting biodiversity and the responsible handling of water and other natural resources. The consumers are increasingly well informed and are interested in the origin and the production methods of the products they buy. In the garden industry this is leading to a growing demand for regionality, ecologically grown plants, sustainable garden products and eco-friendly practices. The companies have meanwhile realised that they play a role in society and that responsible behaviour contributes towards a positive perception, which among others leads to sustainable business practices and contributes to the common good. Ultimately horticultural companies also have to behave responsibly in view of the stricter environmental laws and requirements. This may encompass the reduction of pesticides and chemicals, the promotion of biological cultivation and the observance of sustainability standards. The key topic of spoga+gafa 2024 picks up on precisely these developments.