Boerma Institute: from nursery garden in Limburg to flower arranging in Aalsmeer 

The Boerma Instituut consists out of a family that has been in the flower business for over 120 years and today almost the entire floral community knows where to find the Boerma Institute, a centre offering vocational training, courses and workshops in the field of flower arranging. Jacqueline Boerma and her eldest son also travel all over the world promoting the Boerma Institute and their profession. They visit Japan two to three times a year, where no fewer than 86,000 students aim to become qualified flower arrangers. This international allure has its roots in our most southern province, Limburg.

The Boerma family’s floral history

“My great-grandfather was originally from Friesland and around 1896 he set up a nursery near Margraten in Limburg, where he also sold flower arrangements. Grandpa Boerma then started a flower shop in Maastricht, and later also in Heerlen” Jacqueline proudly explains, whilst recounting the Boerma family history. Grandpa Boerma once thought that Jacqueline’s father should become a civil servant, as he considered this a becoming life-long profession for his son. However, this was not to be, and as you may have guessed, Jacqueline’s father also ended up in the flower industry and became a flower arranging instructor. “My Dad also took part in floral arrangement competitions. As a winner of one of the competitions, he met one of the judges who came from Aalsmeer. That’s how my father ended up here.”

Origin of the Boerma Institute

Theo Boerma became a teacher at the Rijks Middelbare Tuinbouwschool (horticultural college), where he taught well-known floral arrangers such as Elize Eveleens, Bob van den Heuvel, Irma Mus, Nicky Markslag and Peter Boeijkens. Eventually he decided to start his own business in his spare time because there was an increasing demand from the growers for a professional florist diploma. Following up on this, Theo Boerma decided to provide vocational training in his chosen field. Initially, he only offered these courses to acquaintances, but this proved so successful he went on to establish the Boerma Institute in 1980. The family bought two greenhouses on the Legmeerdijk and converted them into suitable premises for a floral design school.

Open days are organised on a regular basis in addition to the vocational training, courses and workshops. During an Open Day you are invited to walk in and take part in a choice of fun activities revolving around flower arranging and design.

Boerma Institute Aalsmeer

Café de Mijnen

Their Limburg roots have not been forgotten in Aalsmeer. The Boerma Institute may be located on the other side of the country, but its mining history is reflected at the institute’s café. “Grandpa Boerma owned a flower shop, but my other grandfather was a miner. That’s why we have all kinds of mining and floral paraphernalia here, a tribute to both sides of the family” The joint professions of the family’s history are certainly on show at the International School of Floral Design. A cloakroom show-cases antique clothes pegs from different mines and a statue of Barbara; the patron saint of miners has a place of prominence in one of its corridors. In the café you can admire a lithograph created by miner, Jan Toorop, sparkproof phones and other museum exhibits.

Back in Aalsmeer you are afforded a real Aalsmeer view from the terrace. A view of greenhouses on all sides. Café de Mijnen is open from Monday to Friday for lunch, coffee or drinks. The dishes served at lunch are vegetarian and 100% plant based. And hopefully they will soon be able to offer products grown in their own woodland. When not teaching, Jacqueline and her family like to keep busy. They are now working on their own food forest or picking garden.