Do you grow fruit, vegetables, mushrooms or microgreens? Do you need assistance? Do you dream of becoming a breeder or of aquaponics fish farming? Regardless if you’ve just come up with an idea or have already launched your business, you can get financial technical and regulatory assistance to create or ensure the sustainability of your project in Brussels.
The Good Food Strategy
The Brussels-Capital Region provides support to urban farming as part of the Good Food Strategy, which is aimed at a real transition in food production.
The number of producers doubled between 2016 and 2020, increasing from 20 (on over 5ha) to 42 (on over 16ha), of which 32 outdoor farms (24 market gardeners, 2 herbal tea growers, 2 sheep farmers, 2 herb growers, 1 hops grower and 1 fruit grower) and 10 hydroponic farms (4 market gardeners, 2 mushroom growers, 2 herb growers and 2 microgreens growers).
Given the many beneficial effects this channel generates (quality food, jobs, reduction of the carbon footprint, greater awareness, etc.), several organisations have been entrusted with providing personalised support to each person active in the sector to ensure that they have the right tools to grow their business.
Who can help?
Regardless if you’ve just come up with the idea or have already launched your business, you can get assistance from the following organisations:
Village Partenaire, Local Economy Office for Urban Farming
Since January 2021, the Local Economy Offices (Guichets d’économie Locale) (GEL) have been entrusted with the mission of strengthening the entrepreneurial aspects of existing support services, i.e. the Facilitateur bruxellois en Agricultures Urbaines (Urban Agriculture Facilitator) and the Graines de Paysans agricultural testing area.
Village Partenaire’s experts provide support for (future) professional producers at each step of the life of their project/company:
- during the creation phase: they provide a critical review of the project concept and its business model, structure it and conduct a market study, help with the crop or financial plan, search for funding, and select the legal status suited to your business needs;
- throughout the life of the business: they provide solutions to technical issues, analyse results and costs, improve profitability, develop new sales channels, and ensure that you have the right tools to become autonomous in the strategic and financial management of your company.
Facilitateur Agriculture Urbaine (FAU)
The Brussels urban agriculture facilitator has provided information and support services for the development of urban agriculture since 2018. On the one hand, the portal centralises information sheets on a range of topics with FAQs and general resources.
On the other, via Guidance, multi-disciplinary experts are available to real estate owners and developers as well as to public organisations and local authorities. There are two objectives for existing neighbourhoods/buildings and new development: professional farm production and vegetable gardens for local residents to encourage production for their own use.
The FAU also provides occasional assistance to Village Partenaire staff in three areas:
- urban planning, legal and regulatory issues,
- production techniques,
- land searches.
The www.agricultureurbaine.brussels portal is a gold mine!
For urban planning, legal and regulatory issues and for regional and real estate development projects see the request form (FR)
The Fédération des professionnel·le·s de l’Agriculture Urbaine (FédéAU) (federation of urban farming professionals) was created at the end of 2020 to represent professional urban farming in Brussels (outdoor and hydroponic farming).
Its purpose is to bring together the pioneers of fair and sustainable food production systems, i.e. to federate the sector’s players and facilitate exchanges between them, develop collective services, lobby the public authorities on their behalf and strengthen bonds with the general public in the Region and its periphery.
The Graines de Paysans farm testing area
The farm testing area (ETA) enables project leaders to test their professional activity in a secure environment (via the job cooperative Baticrea/Job Yourself). During the test period (three years maximum), you will have access to a plot of land (15 to 30 ares), infrastructure and tools suited to your needs to farm and sell your production (tunnel greenhouse, tools, cold room, storage areas, etc.).
Graines de Paysans was launched in 2016 with European funds (Erdf) granted for the BoerenBruxselPaysans project. It is located in Anderlecht, in the Vogelzang valley on land provided by the municipality of Anderlecht (rue du Chant d’Oiseau – Ceria metro).
Market gardening is particularly well-suited to professional farming (annual plants, small surface areas, easily transferable at the end of the period spent at the test area). Support is also provided for the production of herbal teas, edible flowers, aromatic and medicinal herbs and nurseries.
All public support (funding and consulting/support) available to urban professional farming project leaders is described in detail here: https://www.agricultureurbaine.brussels/outil-daide-a-la-decision-pour-les-financements
The analysis is presented in report and in decision tree format.