The Urban ArtFarm is an experimental station for Urban Agriculture. It researches and analyses the pro and contra’s of growing food in the city on rooftops of bigger buildings, with the help of green DIY technology. How does a rooftop ecosystem deal with energy, water, soil and green technology? What does the project represent financially? How do plants and animals (city honeybees) interact with this artificial ecosystem?
UAF (Urban ArtFarm) is an open air laboratory that connects with the city. The base station is built on contiguous rooftops in the historical center of Brussels, connections or nodes to this location can be setup on any other rooftop that is suitable for the purpose. The groundlevel location of UAF is the place on the Brussels’map where a network of medieval market places and monasteries intermingle. The Urban ArtFarm, set on the 6th floorlevel of this place, on the roof of a parking lot, is a place where artists and urban gardeners can develop new strategies for sustainable living in the city. An artistic approach, green DIY technology and a permaculture philosophy should present new opportunities to the citizens to connect to food, food security and sustainability.
To get a timeline of the development of the edible forest garden and the urban ArtFarm, follow the posts in chronological order, starting at the bottom of the page.

AM-beekeeping st.katelijne topshot-UAF-close
Saint Catherine square in the center of Brussels, 14th century monastery gardens and today’s parking lot rooftops

Seed saving is plants moving through time and space. I am drying following herbs and flowers as basic ingredients for herbalist preparations: macerates, creams, tinctures, oils, sirops, …
Rosmarinus officinalis – rosemary; Thymus vulgaris – thyme; Eucalyptus gunnii – eucalyptus; Agastache foeniculum – agastache; Salvia officinalis – sage; Origanum vulgare – oregano; Mentha piperita – peppermint; Hyssopus officinalis – hysop; Satureja montana – savory; Matricaria chamomilla – chamomile; Viola tricolor – heartsease; … (read more…)

Short chain distribution from the rooftop Farm’s harvest, mainly to neighbors and friends: Otber, Toestand project Vilvoorde, Romuald + family, Lucia en Johannes, Radha, Alexandra, Luc, Jan & Christel, harvest dinner Cubans, harvest dinner Axel&Marie, Luc, Jan&Christel, Clémentine, Joeri, Zahra, Jonas Gruzka, Billy, Franziska & Sam, Nathalie Hunter, Daniele Sambo, Radek, Macek, Burning Ice, Eggevoort Water Project (citymined), Nicolas, Katia from den Hague, Els, Billy and Fabrice, Louis Schreel BBQ 10 people, Joannes Vandermeulen, mama, Miet, Els Lingier, Betty Schiel, Luc Steels, … … (read more…)

Or how to spend your free time in summer. The pantry is loaden with the abundance of summer harvest. We are cooking, steaming, drying, freezing, potting and processing roots, fruits and vegetables in all different ways. We dry leaves for tea (fennel/leaves, vanille, liquorice, fennelseeds, bitter orange peel) and for making medicinal recipes.
further reading: how to preserve tomatoes? Preservation of vegetables in oil and vinegar: It is now a relatively common practice to bottle vegetables and herbs and spices in either oil, vinegar or a mixture of both. … (read more…)

We collect the rainwater from the surrounding rooftops to foresee in the water supply of the rooftopgarden. As the rooftopgarden has a limited amount of soil, and because the elements (wind and sun) are stronger high on the rooftops, the soil needs more water than in a ‘natural’ situation. The watermanagement becomes thus very important. It takes up to two hours to water the complete garden manually, with the hose. To save time, we decide to install an automatic wateringsystem, consisting of a microdrip system that is connected to the watertanks and that is controlled by humidity sensors. … (read more…)

The purpose is to gather data on the effects of urban air pollution on urban gardening- and farming crops. Soil can be analyzed and heavy metals in soils can be treated by bioremediation (mushrooms, green manure, nitrogen fixers), but on the effects of city air pollution on crops there is not a lot of information available. How do car exhaust, road dust and acid rain affect the different crops? Is the environmental pollution affect different for leaves, flowers, roots or fruits? Are nuts, fruits and berries less exposed to the urban pollution risks than leaf crops as spinach, or as root crops which do take up and accumulate metals from dust particle deposits in the soil? How might we … (read more…)

Companion planting is the planting of different crops in proximity (in gardening and agriculture), on the theory that they assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control, pollination, and other factors necessary to increasing crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of polyculture.
Companion planting is used by farmers and gardeners for many reasons. For farmers using an integrated pest management system, increased yield and/or reduction of pesticides is the goal.For gardeners, the combinations of plants also make for a more varied, attractive vegetable garden, as well as allowing more productive use of space. … (read more…)

Ecosystems include living organisms, the dead organic matter produced by them, the abiotic environment within which the organisms live and exchange elements (soils, water, atmosphere), and the interactions between these components. Ecosystems embody the concept that living organisms continually interact with each other and with the environment to produce complex systems with emergent properties, such that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and “everything is connected”. … (read more…)

During a few sunny spring weekends we work with a bunch of friends to install the farm on the parking rooftop Dansaert2, and to bring the farm to its full capacity: 44 containers of 125cm x 125cm. The containers are palox europallets, recycled from small fruit&vegetable companies. They are made of hard oad wood. We customize the containers on different heights, suitable for growing herbs, greens, roots and small trees.
The construction workers next doors help us to bring up soil and other materials with their crane. When the basic outline is nearly ready and the hardest work is done, … (read more…)

We connect local OpenGreens in an international network of experimental gardens where artists work with natural processes.
These gardening situations serve especially to look into microsociological and ecological systems related to time as starting points for the development of new artistic practices. The OpenGreens allow us to study the implementation of contemporary art in an ecological context and to observe and draw content from eco-data and natural patterns and processes.
Using media technology and electronics as research tools in these shared laboratories, data from various ecosystems are collected over a period of time. … (read more…)

I discovered that the location of the 2 rooftopgradens has a rich history, tracing back to 1235, when the convent of the ‘White Sisters’ was established. In 1456 Philip the Good integrated the White Sisters in the cloister of Jericho. The address was on the Oude Graanmarkt, right around my corner, and their land had a surface of 4 hectares. They had vegetable gardens and orchards and even their own brewery. It is great to know that we can add another layer on top of this wonderful history. … (read more…)

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 … (read more…)

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. … (read more…)

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 … (read more…)

The Open Green project blends organic and technological matter into one and the same nature. Through analogue and digital means we do long term observations on the growth, blossoming and decay of plants and insects submitted to natural elements such as wind, sun, rain and pollution in an urban context.
We monitor and extract data from natural processes both on a micro garden level as on a macro city level and make the data available online in realtime with open wireless citynetworks. … (read more…)