The Urban Farm by Delhaize

During a time where we are always talking about urban agriculture, circular economy, food sharing, and waste management, it’s great to see the work of one of our clients and what they are doing to make a difference. In this article, we’ll tell you about the good Delhaize is doing as well as why you should attempt your own Urban Farm today.

Delhaize set up their own Urban Farm which consisted of a vegetable garden on the rooftop of their supermarket in Boondael, Brussels and was used to share knowledge about sustainable practices and to inspire people to adopt them in their everyday lives.

To do this, the project invited people to participate in workshops hosted by a trained coach from the Incredible Company. These 2-hour long workshops were held for one week in April, May, and June.

Delhaize created this farm back in Autumn with the idea of producing super fresh food for their customers. More and more people are becoming interested in knowing where their food is from and healthy eating. This was Delhaize’s way to satisfy their customers by offering them the option to shop more locally, and giving them the information they need.

On the top of their store, they grew strawberries, lettuce, and tomatoes as well as small amounts of other fruits and vegetables. It recycles water, recovers heat from its greenhouses and relies on solar energy making it a permaculture farm.

The food is harvested at 8 am every morning and is on the shelves of the supermarket by 9 am, ready to be eaten! And they are a big hit with their customers, saying that the food lasts longer after they’ve brought it and is guilt free.

Unlike normal farms, the Urban Farm comes with some issues. As the farm is lifted off of the ground, it lacks biodiversity. Without this, it is hard to mitigate the damage from insects and other pesticides. Along with this, the roof has certain weight constraints, meaning they have to be very careful with what they are growing and how.

In the summer, Delhaize took their Urban Farm to a new level (metaphorically, as it’s already on the roof…) by introducing people up to the farm to attend workshops. These workshops were designed to bring awareness to the good that people can do at home, as well as ‘better buying practices’.

They offered two types of workshops, one-off sessions as well as a short course. The one-off workshops were held on a Wednesday afternoon, once a month for three months, lasting 2-hours. The first to “Discovery aromatic plants”, second for “Composting from A to Z” and the last session covering “Growing oyster mushrooms at home”.

The 4 workshop cycle were held on a Saturday, 2-hours a piece and concentrated on everything you needed to know to create your own personal Urban Farm. Whether in a garden or a small terrace/balcony. The course promised to teach you “techniques and actions to create a flowering vegetable garden that will delight all your senses.”

The concept of “Urban Farming” includes growing and distribution of plants, fruit, and vegetables as well as keeping animals that produce food within a city or town. This notion is becoming a global trend due to its multiple benefits, such as:

“Greens up” the city:
We all picture cities as lots of grey, cement and pollution. What if you want to change this concept? Having vegetable gardens inside the city will change the atmosphere by cleaning the air and the rainwater, changing the city into a more natural and fresh environment.

Quality vegetables:
We don’t know how the vegetables we consumed grow. By having our own cultivated vegetables, we know that they are free of chemical products, that can be harmful, and that they are full of vitamin as they grew with natural sunlight.

The inversion in the Urban Farm is not necessary high, but we will benefit with quality food. It means that growing the vegetables makes them more affordable.

The actual society has been removed from the food production and are alienated from the process of cropping, seeding, watering and collecting. It is always good to become a part of our aliments process and to become more self-sustainable.

Reduce the transport:
If we cultivate and consume the aliments in the same place, we will skip the transport and we will reduce our carbon footprints. Also, we will reduce the added price of the broker.

Along with all the benefits for the environment, it is also good for the growers as a leisure activity. It is a healthy activity and it contributes to your alimentation, it has no harmful effects and produces satisfaction. During those workshops, people had the chance to meet each other and to share the interest on the lifestyle, the environment and the quality of the aliments.

Thanks to Delhaize and other initiatives, we can all contribute to making a better city and society!
What are you waiting for?
Written by Lucrezia Fratocchi
Customer Success Ambassador at Optimy.