We didn’t get to see much sun in Belgium, these last few days. Days are gray and dark – the shortest days of the year. Therefore, it might be the quietest time of the year on our farm. However, it hasn’t really been cold yet… This means that actually we are working constantly: different types of cabbages can still be found on our fields (red ones, white ones, savoy, curled ones, Chinese cabbage and even cauliflowers). In the autumn, the cauliflowers of Mechelen can already be sown. They distinguish us from other farms, which we are very proud of – that is why our logo is a cauliflower ;).
West Flanders vs. Mechelen
Belgium has two major cauliflower regions: West Flanders and Mechelen/Klein-Brabant region (here we are located). The majority of the cabbage grown in West Flanders is destined for industry. In Mechelen, they are more focused on the auction, Belorta, and on the local markets and farm shops (just like ours). What is typically for those from Mechelen, is that their fields are divided into ‘habits’ or ‘beds’. Those are long raised strips with trenches in between. This is because of the soil which is heavier and more wet in Mechelen than in Klein-Brabant and West-Vlaanderen. This way, the rain can flow more easily over the soil without drowning and damaging the cauliflowers. On top of that, it makes the soil filled with more fertilizer. A true win-win situation!
From seed to cabbage
Now, why is our cauliflower so different? At the beginning of October, we sowed the first seeds. Once they have germinated enough, in December-January, we can pluck them very carefully. They are then planted into a plastic pot, for further growth. These pots are kept in greenhouses for a while. When the plants are strong enough and the weather-conditions are good enough, we put them outside. This year, our caps are already filled with plants. It gives them permission to grow into full-fledged coal in about three months.
Our farm, a place where people come together
From Friday to Sunday, we have 7 sales moments at our farm. This means that it is always very busy for us. Fortunately we get help to make everything ready for the markets. This year, we have 6 interns who want to learn about how to grow such different crops, how to market the products and how to involve people from vulnerable groups.
We choose to also be a care farm to offer valuable activities to all sorts of people with different backgrounds. They find peace and support and a way to lose their energy. We provide for them a permanent place with a daily routine, which makes them experience trust and safety. It allows them to discover new thing each season and perform different tasks that suit everyone’s needs. By taking care of the horses and plants, their self-esteem increases. For once, they are not the ones who need to be helped. Our care farm, located in Koningshooikt (Lier), is therefore important from a social perspective. It makes us ‘different’ from other farms. Moreover, the work done at our company is visible and tangible, which gives great satisfaction, both for us and for our guests. It is our way of contributing to a warmer society! A conscious choice to write on every single day…