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Flower-picking garden FleurAkker expands to new field along cycle route
FleurAkker, the flower picking garden in Brussels that gives customers the opportunity to pick their own bouquets straight from the field, is expanding with a new stretch of land along a cycling route in Jette.
With the newest field, “we are much more in sight,” flower farmer Annemie Knaepen, who manages the picking garden, told Bruzz.
FleurAkker has moved to Rue de Bois/Bosstraat in Jette after starting last year on the same piece of land used by the Courjette vegetable picking garden on Chemin des Moutons/Schapenweg near the Laarbeek wood.
Atelier Groot Eiland, which is responsible for managing both gardens, leases the land from VUB.
With the move, Knaepen is doubling the growing space at her disposal: “On Chemin des Moutons, I worked on 750 m², now I grow on 1,500 m².”
Courjette is also increasing in size as it takes over the space previously occupied by the flower garden, and uses some of the new field for storage of crops such as pumpkins, cabbages and onions, which require a lot of space and time.
The option for self-picking vegetables will still only take place at the Chemin des Moutons, which isn’t expected to pose an issue as the two gardens tend to attract different clientele.
“Picking vegetables is a substitute for a visit to the supermarket, whereas picking flowers is really a family activity,” Knaepen said, adding that the new location was also much more suitable for visitors.
“On the Chemin des Moutons, we were somewhat hidden. This is a more interesting spot. We’re now on a cycle route, past the hop growers of Les houblons de Bruxelles, and a lot more people pass by. The Chalet van Laarbeek and the playground are nearby. Many people make a day of it.”
A richer harvest is anticipated this year
FleurAkker is optimistic about this year’s harvest: “Last season was actually a test. We only started in March, the spring was cold and wet and for me everything was new, I had to find out what works and what doesn't.”
Helped by volunteers from Groot Eiland, Knaepen says they began preparing for growing much earlier this year.
“We started tilling and composting the soil in the summer, so the soil was ready for planting in the autumn.”
In October and November, they planted around 5,000 bulbs, many of them daffodils, along with ornamental bulbs and summer bellflowers. But they’ll be avoiding tulips: “The Laarbeek forest is full of rabbits – I experienced that more than once last year, and rabbits love tulips.”
Knaepen wants to focus more on greenery and herbs as bouquet fillers this year, and include more perennials in the range, especially low shrubs. The daffodils are already flowering now, so the first blooms can be picked.
FleurAkker applies the principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The picking garden works on a subscription basis, and last year’s trial run saw 70 subscribers. Knaepen thinks at least 200 will be required to keep the project alive.
The subscription price has risen since the trial year by 10%, a consequence of the investments that FleurAkker had to make, including construction of a new greenhouse.
A subscription for picking every two weeks is €165, while a weekly picking subscription costs €275.