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Sheep in the city: How one man dreams of walking his herd around Brussels
While sheep may be typically found in the countryside, one local shepherd plans on walking his flock around the perimeter streets of Brussels.
David D’Hondt is a secondary teacher from Molenbeek who looks, and acts, like a farmer. He has a long beard, wears practical clothes and decided to take evening agriculture courses partly for fun, but mainly to learn more about sheep.
This autumn, D’Hondt hopes to walk his own herd along the Green Walk of Brussels, a 60km circular route, which aims to preserve the natural heritage of the city.
He recognises that this may seem bizarre. “From the outside it could look a little bit like it might not be something serious or something more laughable,” says D’Hondt. “There are no animals in the city, it's not the countryside, so let's give people in the city access to a few animals. Children can grow up knowing what animals are even if they've never been on a farm.”
D’Hondt himself grew up in Brussels and wishes he had more direct contact with farm animals. He hopes that by walking his herd around the city, he can teach children and adults about urban agriculture and sustainability.
D’Hondt was inspired to undertake this endeavour after he spent time with a similar project based in Paris.
“What helped me most was meeting and spending time with Les Bergers Urbains,” he says.
“The idea is that people will come together and move with myself and the herd. That’s how they work in Paris. They have a lot of volunteers who come along and help them.
When the herd is not commuting around the city, they will be based in a field in the commune. D’Hondt hopes the herd will be ready to start walking the route this autumn, but he says it all depends on how well the sheep adjust to the move.
He will post a schedule on Facebook with updates on where the herd is located and when they are on the move.
“One of our mottos is ‘Less concrete, more sheep’ and is linked to the fact that the city is being built up, and the green areas are disappearing,” D’Hondt says. “Sheep moving around the city can maintain these green areas by their presence. They put the emphasis on something which is kind of disappearing.”
The project is partially funded through a MiiMOSA crowdfunding campaign, which has already raised over €6,000. Supporters can donate money in exchange for wool knitting kits, lamb meat or an afternoon of activities with the herd for children.
For more information, see lesmoutonsbruxellois.be or miimosa.com/be/projets/les-moutons-envahissent-bruxelles