17 May 2021 – The Green Office for KU Leuven (Campus Brussels) took students on a tour of BIGH Farm at the Abattoir of Anderlecht to learn about sustainable farming in urban areas. It was a rainy day but that didn’t prevent the 25 of us from enjoying the visit and now we want to share the experience with our readers!
BIGH stands for Building Integrated Green Houses and here we explain why…
The greenhouse, together with an outdoor garden, an aquaculture (fish farm), and a solar farm, all rest on the rooftop of a food market. The market uses a shared cooling system to store their foods (more energy efficient than each shop having their own system) and the residual heat generated from this system is transferred to the greenhouse. Rainwater is captured from the roof and then treated so that it can be used for their fish farming. Water from the fish farm, which contains nutrients, is used to nourish the plants in the greenhouse as well as the plants in the outdoor garden.
David Deweerdt, who is responsible for marketing and communications at BIGH Farm, explained that the water circulation system here ensures that no water gets wasted. The rooftop is installed with solar panels to generate clean energy. The construction of the farm uses as much recycled materials as possible, for example, the wooden floor uses only repurposed wood. The branches that are trimmed from the plants are used for making compost, which is then used in the farm.
This circular and self-sustaining model allows BIGH Farm to produce tomatoes and chili peppers locally and year-round. Who would’ve thought that the Carolina reaper and the habanero, the two spiciest chilis in the world, are being harvested in Brussels? The great thing about eating local food is not only the freshness and taste, but we’re also cutting down on carbon footprint when we don’t have to transport our food from faraway places.
The farm is open for educational tours (like the one we did) and workshops, as well as for hosting events. We got to taste their tomatoes during the visit and some of us also came home with pots of mint trees! Definitely a morning well spent.
By Pongsin Thepruangchai
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