Category Archives: urban artfarm 2012


Each different crop will be grown in a wooden palox box of 125×125. With 1m3 (1 cubic meter) of soil we can fill up 4 to 5 boxes with a layer between 12 and 30 cm of bio-soil, mixed with compost or ecoveen (along the needs of the plants). At dewinter groencompost, we ordered in januari 2012: 6 x 1m3 teelaarde + 2 x 1m3 edelcompost + 1 x fijne groencompost + 1 x ecoveen.
In februari 2012 we put a complementary order of: 12 x 1m3 teelaarde (from which 5m3 will be prepared in 10 bigbags of 1/2 m3 for the trees; and 7m3 will serve for the vegetables), 3 x 1m3 fijne groencompost (for adding during the season to the crops growing), 1 x ecoveen (for keeping the water up in times of drought).

ecioveen edelcompost compost
Ecoveen, edelcompost and compost. Average weight goes as follows:
° teelaarde: 800 kg/m³
° teelaarde+: 700 kg/m³
° gewone groencompost: 525 kg/m³
° edelcompost of fijne groencompost: 550 kg/m³
° ecoveen: 230 kg/m³


Gewone groencompost is door zijn iets grovere struktuur het best geschikt voor diepere grondbewerkingen en bij het aanplanten van houtachtigen.
Fijne groencompost is ideaal voor oppervlakig gebruik bij zaaien of planten en als toplaag voor gazon.
Edel compost is een mengsel van fijne groencompost aangerijkt met organische voedingsstoffen en gebruikt men best daar waar opbrengst belangrijk is.
Ecoveen is de ecologische variant voor turf met gemakkelijke waterabsorptie en een goede bewerkbaarheid.
Teelaarde plus is een mengsel van goede tuingrond met fijne groencompost.
Volledige ontleding van de samenstelling van de compostproducten, o.a. zoutgehalte, zuurgehalte, koolstof/stikstof verhouding, voedingselementen, mineralenen metalen:
samenstelling groencompost.
Bemestingsadvies na grondanalyse in commercieel tuincentrum:

For the seedlings we use a special soil mix, enriched with vermiculite (expands, water) or peat (veen) for retaining water and enriched with perlite (volcanic, water, aeration) for a better draining of superfluous rainwater. We experiment with organic soil fertilizers: green fertilizers fixing nitrogen in the soil: phacelia, fenugreek, mustard, buckwheat: Green manure and fertilizer guide.
In terms of soil remediation (if necessary) we want to experiment with mushrooms, and we set up a mycology-lab. More info on soil improvement: hugelkultur, amrut mitti, indian soil fertilizer with cow dung.

Composting: with a little help of our friends

The self sufficient garden is not far away. With a little help from our friends, the insects and micro-organisms we can find in amounts of zillions in the garden compost heap, we can make microbial fuel cells which can power small devices (sensors) for monitoring the gardens.
Microscope registration of the micro organism activity in a rooftop compost heap. The organisms are ± 1 mm long, there are zillions of it in the compost, the surface covered here is ± 5 square mm.
The organisms are extremely active, it would be great to convert their activity into energy to power the technology to monitor the rooftop garden. Cradle to cradle.
This is how to do it: make magazine – bacteria-battery.


Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Einstein

December 2011 I made the first designs for the creation of an Urban ArtFarm.
The Urban ArtFarm (2012) is an extension of the existing edible rooftop garden (2009). The 2 intensive rooftopgardens are situated on top of adjacent parking lots and are physically connected. The edible rooftop garden is specialised in mediterrean and medicinal plants, herbs and flowers – all with an important nectar/pollen value. The Urban ArtFarm focuses mostly on fruits and vegetables. Both gardens are set up along the principles of permaculture. They both host several bee colonies, and are very friendly to other pollinating insects and birds. In both gardens we work with recuperation of rainwater and we make our own compost. We will set up alternative energy systems with solarpanels to power the waterpumps. The beehives are monitored with custom-made, low cost technology.
Design for a new 1000m2 rooftop garden in the center of Brussels. On the roof, we will grow fruits and vegetables for the hungry city.

These pictures show a glimpse from the first build-up phase, on the concrete rooftop of ‘parking Dansaert2’ in Brussel’s city center.
blenderserre outlineserre serremaart fruitbomen futurebakken

More and more people are living in the cities. We have to search for new modes of living, new sustainable ways of food production. Therefore we are researching how to make a network of cultivated, intensive city rooftopgardens and grow food for the neighbourhood.
In the Urban ArtFarm project we want to blend nature, culture and technology. We will explore how to set up a middle sized rooftopgarden with recycled materials, and with the help of DIY digital tools we will study the biotic and abiotec elements of the rooftop ecosystem: the growth, blossoming and decay of plants while they are submitted to the natural elements as wind, rain, snow, etc.

more info in the connected opengreens database:


Sustainable gardening: design, construction, operations and maintenance practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This can be reached by attempting to protect, restore and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide ecosystem services that benefit humans and other organisms.
Checklist: local climate regulation; air and water cleansing; water supply and regulation * erosion and sediment control; hazard mitigation; pollination; habitat functions; waste decomposition and treatment; global climate regulation; human health and well-being benefits; food and renewable non-food products; cultural benefits; …

The OpenGreens project covers different bottom up approaches for designing human environments that have the stability and diversity of natural ecosystems. Integration of urban agriculture, honeybees and their role in urban ecosystems, renewable energy systems, food sovereignty systems, natural building, rainwater harvesting and urban planning along with the economic, political and social policies that make sustainable living possible and practical.

10 principles of permaculture design according to Bill Mollison* relative location: how elements of the design are in relation to other elements. What are the connections between them?
Multiple function: each element of the design should perform at least 3 different functions. (trees⇒ windbreak, food, rooftop insulation, …); multiple sources: not rely of just 1 source of something (water, energy, …); zone: place the elements of the design according to their frequency of use. Also check the control and utilisation of the energies entering/passing through the site (cold winds, summer sun, …); energy cycling: harvest as many nutrients and energy from the garden design; using biological resources: using the natural qualities of things, companianplanting, pest-controlling insects, …; stacking: observations of natural systems as three dimensional systems (7 layers); diversity: a diversity of plants, a social and economical diversity (people, providers, …); edges: productivity in natural environments increases at edges between different ecosystems. Has to be taken into account when designing the garden. (hedges, ponds, beds, …); small scale: keeping a garden intensive and small; …