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1,400 people on waiting list for a garden plot in Brussels

11:17 24/05/2023

There are about 1,400 people on a waiting list for access to a garden plot in Brussels - as demand for green space continuously outpaces supply.

The arrival of spring and sunny weather has prompted many families in the Belgian capital to seek the outdoors, Bruzz reports, but community garden spaces are limited in the city.

There are just 14 allotments of such land managed by Brussels Environnement.

“I come here to de-stress, it calms me down,” one resident with access to a plot told Bruzz.

“When I garden I don't think about anything. A second reason I do it is from economic reasons. Vegetables have become very expensive lately so if I can harvest some here, it's a good thing.”

Not everyone has the same access to such respite: Brussels Environment said the plots were in high demand.

“The corona pandemic caused a big increase in applications,” spokesperson Pascale Hourman explained.

“Since 2020, the number of families on the waiting list has risen from 300 people to about 1,400 people.”

Hourman said other Belgian cities, such as Ghent, are seeing similar surges.

One Brussels resident was on the waiting list for more than seven years before finally getting access to a small garden plot on the border of Jette and Ganshoren. Others have given up, hoping to eventually be able to move to a place that comes with outdoor space.

“During the pandemic, I wanted to be busy with nature, be outdoors, and greening the city is also important to me,” one resident said.

But after signing up for a plot of land in a city garden, the resident said: “I soon realised that I ended up on a waiting list with hundreds of other people. Access to land in the city is very difficult, and actually not democratic in general. To still be able to engage in my passion, I started looking for alternatives.”

They now volunteer for an urban farming project run by the non-profit organisation Groot Eiland in Molenbeek and occasionally help at the Chant des Cailles farm in Watermael-Boitsfort.

“There are lots of initiatives in Brussels to get involved in gardening, but owning a piece of land yourself is almost impossible,” the resident said.

Apart from those managed by Brussels Environment, almost every commune in the capital has an allotment of garden plots – and their own waiting list.

Brussels Environment offers tips for gardening creatively in homes where it is not always easy to do so.

“We are also now taking measures to help people more quickly, such as dividing plots into smaller pieces,” a spokesperson said.

Written by Helen Lyons