A view of City Hall and Saint Rumbold's Cathedral, from Market Square in Mechelen, Source: Frank / Unspalsh

Belgium’s Mechelen tries new ‘Edible City’ concept

Belgium’s Mechelen tries new ‘Edible City’ concept

The project is backed by Greenpeace

This week, Greenpeace announced they will support an initiative to create an ‘Edible City’ in Mechelen, Belgium. The initiative started in 2021 and was originally launched by four climate organisations: Velt, Klimaan, Citamine and Natuurpunt, as well as the Funky Jungle restaurant.

The so-called Groene Voeten (Green Feet) project proposed greening a small area next to Saint Rumbold's Cathedral (Sint-Romboutskathedraal) in central Mechelen. However, instead of just planting trees, the group proposed that the church greenspace should also host fruit trees like berries, grapes and apples, as well as herbs.

Edible City

The idea here is to transform the space from an uninteresting square which pedestrians pass through daily into a vibrant public space with street furniture and gardens, where both people and restaurants can come and pick produce that can later go into kitchens.

This would shorten the distance between food growth and consumption – a big part of the fight to make cities more sustainable. Reducing the gap between these two points would allow for more biodiversity and less carbon-intensive access to fresh produce.

Additionally, it could help regenerate local fauna, as many insects, small mammals, and birds can find a home and sustenance between the herbs and fruit trees.

Investing climate fines into green projects

In 2022, the Flemish government had to pay a fine of 850,000 euros to Greenpeace for failing its air pollution reduction plans. According to the VRT, the funds that Greenpeace is investing in Mechelen come from that pot (25,000 euros).

Additionally, the local council in the city has also decided to take part in the Edible City project and funded the idea with 150,000 euros.

Alderman of Nature and Green Development, Patrick Princen, was quoted by the VRT explaining that local authorities want to take out the cobblestones and much of the hedges that are already there. Moreover, the area would benefit greatly from rain capture, but the redevelopment will need to try and protect as much of the trees already present.



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