Part of the gent plant people
Eva is involved with many wonderful Gent initiatives around plants, food production and sustainable living. Her family recently moved into a new ‘passive house' in Gentbrugge built by her partner. The design means that it is extremely well insulated. The outer skin of the house is disconnected from the inner skin, so there are no 'cold bridges', meaning that the cold cannot reach the inside of the house and the heat in summmer also stays out. Plus the house is designed so there is permanent ventilation to keep the air fresh. The house is on an old industrial site and was part of a program run by the government providing subsidy for young families to buy land and build a house. The same architect designed 5 houses on Eva’s street, 3 of which are passive solar. Eva has a wonderful wild looking garden with pots and trees everywhere, and she has started to grow lots of root vegetables and a beautiful living willow sculpture. And she has a lovely tomato plant growing in her kitchen by the big window.
Eva is involved with Wijveld CSA where members pay for the upkeep of a local farm on the edge of Gent growing an abundance of food. When crops are ready the members are sent an email telling them which food they can harvest. It’s a great initiative set up and run by Michiel Van Poucke. Members can pick their own seasonal and organic food and there is a wonderful sense of community as they meet each other out in the field.
Eva is also a member of the new Voedselteams group which recently set up in Gentbrugge. Voedselteams connects local farmers to residents. Members shop for the different local produce online and each week they collect their food from a local pick up point (if you want to learn more, you can read the story I did about Voedselteams). I was very interested to see how Eva accesses food on a number of different levels - all of them sustainable. It ensures that she has a diversity of produce in her household, and she is also supporting local initiatives and local farmers in seeking out that diversity.
Eva and I chatted a lot about growing food and how some people are too scared to grow plants for fear of killing them or they don’t even know where to start. Eva talked about her own worries when hearing about how difficult tomatoes are to grow. But at the end of the day, we decided that it’s worth trying and if it doesn’t work out, you can always try again having learnt from the past. You only have to ask a friend or neighbour who likes gardening for advice. Local knowledge helps local systems to grow.
Eva is also involved with a car sharing group called ‘Degage’ www.degage.be where car owners let other locals access their car as long as they pay for the petrol and mileage. It was obvious that Eva is very concerned about the environment and her green footprint. It didn’t surprise me at all when she told me she was involved with the Transition movement.
She is a member of Transitienetwerk Middenveld and Transitienetwerk Cultuur. Transition is a worldwide movement where communities shift to local solutions around climate change issues, problems associated with economic hardship and a desire for less reliance on peak oil and other natural resources. Eva is involved with pushing policy change and linking communities together, and she is helping to organisine the Transition conference in October at Vooruit. They are presenting 26 sessions, including panels on car sharing, energy for housing, and sustainable food systems.
It was great to meet Eva and see how much positive change that one person can make for their family and their community.