Part of the gent plant people
Two years ago, Michiel and his wife Helga decided they wanted to transition towards a lower impact life. They did 2 things. They started an online business selling ecological clothing www.goedvandoen.be which allowed them to spend more time at home and with their children. The idea behind the clothing line was to provide people with a choice in deciding what clothes they buy based on where those clothes come from. Secondly, they started growing vegetables in containers at home and creating their own home-grown fertiliser from food scraps.
Michiel is mad about worms. He has made his own worm farms from plastic containers and wooden boxes. Then he also started using a Bokashi (a Japanese style of composting which breaks down all kinds of food using natural powders as agents). Michiel began experimenting with a combination of bokashi and worm farms. He feeds the bokashi waste to his worms, and they love it. It means the bokashi can break down all sorts of food which worms wouldn’t normally touch raw (like onions, garlic and chilli).
Michiel has also bought a compost bin. He is now re-using every scrap of food-waste that comes through his house. He has no need to buy fertiliser – he lets the worms and compost create natural fertiliser for his garden. And it’s free!
Michiel uses the worm castings and compost as soil for his container gardening. He is getting great results as the plants thrive on all the nutrients. Container gardening needs regular nutrients added to the pot to mimic the amounts which would normally be found in a garden bed. Michiel also grows some food in his garden bed, but the containers are for a bigger purpose. He is experimenting with containers because he has a great idea…
He wants to put giant food growing containers around the city. The great thing about this idea is that containers are mobile, so if there is a big event or Festival they can just be moved to a different location. The size and height of the containers would mean they are off the ground and protected from dogs. They would also be perfect for fitting into a car space – imagine car parks around the city replaced by huge containers full of edible plants and flowers!
Michiel also thinks a lot about how much food waste there is and how all the vegetarian cafes and restaurants in town should compost or worm farm their waste and then give this great natural fertiliser back to the farmers.
Michiel and Helga have also made some interesting environmental changes to the design of their land. They worked with a permaculture designer to re-pave the driveway area so that plants could grow on top of the concrete foundation and through the paving. Michiel helped install the design and now there are plants growing all over the ground which you can walk on. It has created a green space replacing the bricks and concrete.
Michiel’s story is a great example of how much you can do at home just by experimenting with ideas and interests. I hope that his container idea ends up all over Gent, it would be a beautiful way of turning the city green!
Check out his blog http://goedvandoen.blogspot.be