Brussels is much more than a capital with half its territory made up of public parks and private gardens: it is actually a playground for more and more citizens willing to grow their own food, individually or collectively.
By Hughes Belin
Nov 29, 2018
A new guide to Brussels’ urban gardens, recently published by Christophe and Jacques Mercier, describes some of them: Paysages citoyens à Bruxelles – 50 lieux où la nature et l’humanité ont repris leurs droits (Citizens’ landscapes in Brussels – 50 spots where nature and humanity have reclaimed their rights). The book is a non-exhaustive breath of fresh air and shows the diversity of urban farming and citizens’ initiatives in Brussels.
The authors recall the concept’s origins in Manhattan’s East Side in New York. Some inhabitants there occupied urban wastelands abandoned by estate speculation. That’s where the first community gardens were born.
And they had their heroine: Liz Christy, an artist, who was throwing seed bombs over fences to transform the areas into gardens. Citizens organised and formed green guerrillas, until the municipality launched a programme called Green Thumb to boost the development of these green spots. Today, there are more than a thousand in the Big Apple, and they have spread around the world: Montreal, Tokyo, Berlin, Lille, Paris and… Brussels.