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This urban farm in the Netherlands grows healthy food and communities

6 min read

Better Society
This urban farm in the Netherlands grows healthy food and communities
Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes/BrightVibes.com

De Moestuin—an organic farm with a cafe, grocery store, and a greenhouse for events and special occasions—is a social enterprise in Utrecht whose main goal is the vocational integration of people outside the conventional labour market.

“De Moestuin” is very important for Utrecht

A place like “De Moestuin” (The Allotment) is very important for a large city like Utrecht. Most of the people living in Utrecht don’t have a backyard, or even a balcony. People feel the need to get out, they want to see how their food is being grown, to walk around in a beautiful green environment. Just to relax and get some fresh and delicious food. That’s where this fabulous organic farm and social enterprise comes into its own.

‘We would like to welcome you in our Lunch Café. Here we serve homemade pies, vegetable garden lemonade and a delicious lunch with many ingredients from our own garden. Our organic range changes seasonally and is prepared with pleasure by our people in the kitchen. We have many vegan and sugar free choices.’
Would you like to come and have a drink or lunch, nice among the greenery? ‘We would like to welcome you in our Lunch Café. Here we serve homemade pies, vegetable garden lemonade and a delicious lunch with many ingredients from our own garden. Our organic range changes seasonally and is prepared with pleasure by our people in the kitchen. We have many vegan and sugar free choices.’ Source: Moestuinutrecht.nl

a social enterprise with people at its heart

De Moestuin is a social enterprise whose main goal is the vocational integration of people outside the conventional labour market, for example those with physical or cognitive differences, or other reasons that might bar them from seeking employment through traditional channels. 

De Moestuin has some 70 people working there with a background in psychiatry or addiction care. They work in the 2,5-hectare (6.18 acre) organic farm. There is also a lunch cafe, an organic grocery store, and a greenhouse for events and special occasions. Besides that, De Moestuin also host children’s parties and organise educational events for schools. 

Source: Moestuinutrecht.nl

local products with a story

“Everything that we grow here: vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit is in the first place for our 200 harvest members. They come harvesting their food here every week. We also sell a lot of vegetables in our grocery store. And we use our produce in our lunch cafe and restaurant.  Besides that, we also supply to restaurants and an organic shop in the city,” says de Moestuin’s Director, Pieter Jagtman.

“We grow more than 50 different kinds of vegetables. We also grow herbs, fruits and flowers. Organically grown vegetables are much in demand. Lots of people want to eat tasty and sustainable food, so we haven’t been able to keep up for years.”

“We think it’s important to opt for local products. Products with a story. For example, our dairy is from “de hondspol”, driebergen it’s a fantastic company, that produces organic-dynamic milk, that also works with people with a distance to the labour market, with focus on nature and our environment.” 

Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes

The greatest thing about buying local products is that you support small sustainable businesses

“I think it’s sad that we lost the connection with our roots. More and more people are working in an office, sitting behind their desks all day. But I think it would be great if we could go back to our roots working with our hands. Growing our own vegetables. Living closer to nature. It can lead to substantial health benefits as well, as people experience less stress, living a healthier life would be great.”

Jagtman believes that within cities, we should look back at how things were before: every city had its food supply surrounding the urban area. 

“I think it’s important for cities – if it’s possible, because space is very scarce – to start growing food the old-fashioned way. To produce food in the outskirts of the city, to create green lungs around our cities. It’s healthy, better for our climate. But also nice for the residents, to enjoy sustainable and local food.That way, we can restore the connection with our food.

Together with the community, we’re able to make this happen.

Do you agree cities need green spaces like the Moestuin? 

The Vegetable Garden Shop contains fresh vegetables from our own garden. In addition, we have eggs from our chickens, jam, chutney and cake from our own kitchen and an ever-growing collection of delicious products from organic entrepreneurs in the neighbourhood.
Bring the Vegetable Garden into your home! The Vegetable Garden Shop contains fresh vegetables from our own garden. In addition, we have eggs from our chickens, jam, chutney and cake from our own kitchen and an ever-growing collection of delicious products from organic entrepreneurs in the neighbourhood. Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes
Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes

Bring the Vegetable Garden into your home!

The Vegetable Garden Shop contains fresh vegetables from the garden. In addition, they have eggs from their own chickens, jam, chutney and cake from their own kitchen and an ever-growing collection of delicious products from organic entrepreneurs in the neighbourhood.

Own assortment

Soup, jam, honey, fresh vegetables and more are available daily in our Vegetable Garden Shop.

 Products from other nearby organic suppliers:

– Bread: fresh organic sourdough bread from our neighbors De Veldkeuken, on Friday and Saturday

– Apple and pear juice and syrup from Lot 55

– Flour and meat from the Jersey bulls from the Eyckenstein farm

– Milk, yogurt, beef and pork from the Hondspol biodynamic care farm

– Agnes herbal tea

– Herbal tea from the Polderkol

 

In addition, they also sell:

– large assortment of De Nieuwe Band

– Fabric vegetable and bread bags

– Beautiful books such as the Beer & Apple Juice walking book

– Yard soaps from Utrecht

– a Vegetable Garden collection Pins and plant hangers, in collaboration with Dutch eco design from Utrecht: All the things you like.

De Oranjerie: a beautiful glass greenhouse, adjacent to our lawn and our greenhouse. Overlooking the colorful garden and greenhouse full of vegetables and fruit.
Party and meeting location the Oranjerie. De Oranjerie: a beautiful glass greenhouse, adjacent to our lawn and our greenhouse. Overlooking the colorful garden and greenhouse full of vegetables and fruit. Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes
At the Moestuin there are 70 participants with a background in psychiatry/addiction care who work in labour-based trajectories in the garden and in the hospitality industry.
The Vegetable Garden. At the Moestuin there are 70 participants with a background in psychiatry/addiction care who work in labour-based trajectories in the garden and in the hospitality industry. Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes
Because in this uncertain time it is even more important for people to continue to experience that regularity of meaningful work in their week.
Fortunately that can continue! Because in this uncertain time it is even more important for people to continue to experience that regularity of meaningful work in their week. Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes
Do you agree cities need green spaces like the Moestuin?
De Moestuin is a 2,5-hectare (6.18 acre) organic farm. Do you agree cities need green spaces like the Moestuin? Source: Sanne van Hemert for BrightVibes

This article was produced in partnership with The Sustainable Urban Delta Foundation

The Sustainable Urban Delta Foundation was established to inspire megacities to make choices that open the door to healthy and sustainable urban growth. A crucial element of their approach is the production of local, healthy and fresh food. This can either be done inside cities or on undeveloped agricultural land surrounding cities, known as green belts. SustainableUrbanDelta aim to be the catalyst and the connector in order to create a better future.

This Dutch urban farm grows healthy food and communities. 'De Moestuin' (the allotment) is a unique place with an organic vegetable garden, a carpentry workshop, a shop and a lunch café. It is not just a place where fruit and vegetables are grown, but a special project. 'De Moestuin' is a social enterprise; their main goal is the vocational integration of people with a distance to the labour market. Source: Facebook/SustainableUrbanDelta
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Changing the way we produce and transport food will kick-start the circular economy, boost social cohesion and stop food waste altogether. We’re not far away from food-producing cities, but we need a catalyst. We are here to connect, enable and amplify the change out there. Are you a mayor, city government official, city planner, architect, real estate developer, entrepreneur, engaged citizen or potential sponsor keen to get started? You can help us inspire and empower cities to become food producing communities, creating a healthy and sustainable living environment. This is how you can get involved.