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Organic Micro-Farm

Molenkouter is an innovative micro-farm and a short value-chain project growing organic vegetables in the former Vinderhoute windmill In the outskirts of Ghent (Belgium).

Location: Vinderhoute, Belgium

Produce: High-valued horticultural produce for selling to restaurants and on farmer's markets, cultivated through ecological intensification, i.e using only few varieties which enable growth in between leaves and grow fast

How Do They Contribute to a Better Climate?

Extra harvest on a small surface

Gerd experiments with intercropping methods and different widths between plants. While the leaves of cabagges remain small, he can plant other small things in between, and everything grows much faster!

Optimizing the use of space

With only half a hactare available, Gert must innovate in his farm layout. Composting along greenhouse edges and hanguing tables that he can slide from side to side save him a few meters...In the mill, every inch counts!

Harvesting while leaving roots in the soil

Conventional methods usually extract root system from the soil during harvest. By keeping the root system intact under a layer of compost, he can start planting straight after harvesting

about the farm

For centuries, farmers from the region of Ghent have supplied the city demand for fresh vegetables. Somewhere along the way, urban societies lost that direct link to food. As consumers started prefering tomatoes from Spain, asparagus from Peru, green beans from Kenya, rather than from local producers, farmers stuggled to make a living of agriculture. As a result, rural areas around Ghent saw its family farms transform into industrial heated houses for flower production. However, heating this houses was neither sustainable nor economically viable. Thus, flower production started displacing into tropical countries and many greenhouses became abandoned. The basic structure of these greenhouses are still standing and in perfect condition for passive (not heated) farming, optimal for growing vegetables year round.

Gert returned to the mill and found in these abandonded greenhouses the perfect structures for using them for passive (i.e not heated) indoor farming. He found the place online and instead of being discuraged about the small space as most did, he saw in these fabulous structures the perefect opportunity for growing organic vegetables year round!

For Gert, growing a vegetable garden started as a hobby. He trusted all the knowledge he had on intensive farming, he knew that commercial farming was possible in such a small scale and dared to jump into it.

“My spatial limitations made me think of really innovative solutions for optimizing the use of this small plot. If you go small as possible, you can really optimize for an efficient use of the space. And this is way more profitable in every sense of the word, much more efficient than a large farm”

What else is going on?

Reviving the family tradition

In the outskirts of Ghent, brothers Gert and Tom took back their family's legacy - the Vinderhoute windmill, and revived the vegetable farm from their grandfather

Learning Bio intensive Farming on Youtube

Gert is a self-taught farming enthusiast and loves experimenting on his farm. By using mainly youtube videos and books, he learns and improves his intensification methods

Tropical microclimate

The microclimate inside the greenhouse allows growing tropical and mediterranean crops all year round, such as tobacco. Permanent vegetation in greenhouse and biodiversity create a less artificial growing environment, which invites beneficial insects and keeps diseases away