Team building is a phrase that makes us all cynical. The activities are too often derivative. A team-building at an urban farm combats this, though. Learn something, get out of the office, and get your hands dirty.
There’s a whole host of reasons to get involved with urban farming: access to more fresh food, helping the environment, increasing the city’s local charm, making friends, or maybe just a new hobby?
Put simply, urban farming is growing or producing food in a city or heavily populated area. And you don’t need to be a corporation or have massive amounts of land to get involved. You could be a nonprofit, an individual, a group of friends, or a neighbourhood group. The food produced can be sold to restaurants, at farmers markets, or given to local charities.
It’s a diverse world, and it’s growing in a big way. So we’ve put together a guide to innovative urban farming initiatives in Brussels.
BIGH Farm is Europe’s largest rooftop urban farm located on the old Abattoir site in Brussels’ canal area.
The farm runs on an aquaponic system. This allows high-quality herbs, fruit, vegetables and fish (striped bass) to grow in a closed and zero waste loop.
BIGH is constantly innovating. For example, they are trying to up their herb production to meet demand. This will see an increase from six to eight different kinds of herbs. Right now they’re also experimenting with chillies. They are even changing the fish in their aquaponics system from striped bass to trout.
BIGH Farm’s ingenuity is driven chiefly by market demand, environmental concern, and genuine curiosity. If you would like to learn more, we really recommend organising a corporate visit with them!
Le Champignon de Bruxelles
Le Champignon de Bruxelles focuses on economic and environmental efficiency. And mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.
Did you know that only 10% of the ingredients used in beer making make it into your glass? Well, this 3000m2 urban farm aims to make waste useful.
Teaming up with breweries across the city, Le Champignon de Bruxelles uses the organic waste from beer production to produce up to six tons of shiitake mushrooms per month.
They told us that people are often surprised at how big their operation is. And they’re looking to grow further still. If you are in the mood to be surprised, take your team for a professional visit to see yourself.
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URBI Leaf is the only urban farm that has settled its production in a shop. Swearing by transparency with their clients, they promote a farm to fork method where folk can ask questions and buy directly from them.
URBI Leaf focuses on producing microgreens. Delicious and pretty, their products are rich in nutrients and are considered superfoods. They have also recently launched a new range of natural and tasty food and drink products from a selected group of local producers.
Their production model is also highly efficient at alleviating their ecological footprint. So, guilt-free munching!
If URBI Leaf has caught your attention, look out for their DIY workshops rolling out at the start of next year. It’s a unique and sustainable team-building idea.
Peas & Love
Peas & Love grew from a mistake. Their founder – Jean-Patrick Scheepers – bought €150 worth of seeds and crops. Sadly, money was wasted, as he didn’t know how to make them grow.
But, as any successful person will tell you, failure is good. Following his mishap, Jean-Patrick realised he wasn’t the only person who had this problem. So he decided to develop a community project where everyone works and learns together.
Just look at Peas & Love now. They are continually innovating, with over 70 different varieties of fruits, herbs and vegetables so far. They invest a lot of energy into research and development, such as horizontal and vertical farming.
They believe in positivity and transparency, just like their founders’ story. They also believe in community and bringing people together. This is exemplified in how accessible they are; they welcome any skill level, and you can spend as little or as much time as you like helping out.
If you would like to find out more, they have three urban agriculture locations in Brussels, and 5 in the Greater Paris area.
Skyfarms are in the business of making your life easier and more fulfilling. If you would like an urban vegetable farm for you or your business, they will 100% take care of it!
Skyfarms will conduct feasibility studies for you, design your company garden and create your crop plan. They recruit the participants and coach them – from sowing to harvesting. It also offers essential urban farming supplies such as containers, soil, tools, plans, etc.
They follow your preferences to create a selection of fruits, vegetables and flowers that will evolve as the seasons unfold. Skyfarms also organise workshops and conferences on a wide range of themes related to sustainable food production.
So if you’re looking for a unique team building to surprise your colleagues, Skyfarm could be just the thing you’re looking for.
La Ferme du Chant des Cailles
La Ferme du Chant des Cailles is a participatory city farm project in the heart of Logis-Floréal in Watermael-Boitsfort. What makes it special is it’s not just focused on sustainable food: it’s focused on people too.
Born in 2012, it has been carried out jointly by residents of the district and professional farmers whose various activities are grouped under the non-profit organisation “La Ferme du Chant des Cailles”.
They have been working hard to supply Brussels with fruits, vegetables, aromatic herbs, cheeses, yoghurts, apple juice, wool, meat and flowers.
Urban Harvest sustainably grows high-quality crops, all year round and at a competitive price. Everything they produce is grown at their vertical farm in Belgium. They guarantee zero pesticides in their processes, and their latest technology ensures 95% water efficiency.
It is the largest commercial vertical farming process in Belgium. Built in an ancient meat market, their approach is one of innovation.
They have developed a vast and exciting selection of produce and packaging types for each specific need you have. You can contact them directly to hear about all the available possibilities.
BoerenBruxselPaysans aims to shift Brussels towards being a more sustainable food region. Their urban agriculture centres are based in the Neerpede and the Vogelzang Valley in Anderlecht.
Their project offers space, infrastructure, and support to produce, process, and distribute fruits, vegetables, and aromatic plants.
Their objective? Short-circuit production, transformation and distribution projects to make local, quality food accessible to Brussels residents. The project is financed by the FEDER (Fonds Européen de Développement régional) and piloted by Bruxelles Environnement.
There’s a good chance you’ve been quite inspired by now. Well, BoerenBruxselPaysans can help you if you have an entrepreneurial project in sustainable food. Get assistance with everything from the physical work of urban farming to help with market research, admin, etc.
As you can see, urban farming is not only accessible but booming. It’s also great for your belly and the environment. Eating local has never been so easy in Brussels, that’s for sure.
It might not be for everyone, this farming business. But a team-building afternoon could be a great excuse to get out of the office and raise your team’s morale in Mother Nature.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably enjoy being outside and in nature. Maybe you also like the odd thrill? If that’s the case, then perhaps you might enjoy reading our guide to water sport activities close to Brussels?
Featured image: Urban Farming via earth