MicroFlavours: Innovative Urban Framing in Brussels
A new Brussels business start-up has recently launched its own "urban farm". The company known as “MicroFlavours Brussels” is a young and dynamic enterprise. Dario and Tom, the organisation’s founders, began specialising in the production of microgreens three years ago, with the goal of feeding the population of Brussels with fresh and local produce.
The Company, cultivates its produce in the cellars of the former Belle-Vue brewery in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. This is done through vertical farming techniques which enable a greater amount of produce to be grown within a small area. Such “agriculture of the future” techniques are considered to be more efficient and use fewer resources, through arranging several tiers vertically and through making use of vacant and derelict spaces within the city. Thanks to such high-tech installations, they provide a solution for creating a sustainable and self-sufficient food chain for the city.
MicroFlavours employs a reusable hydroponic water system which results in 90% water savings and which also takes advantage of residual heat from buildings to keep the plants warm.
However, in addition to just production techniques, there are also other considerations for the Company’s business ethos. In this respect, social benefits in particular are regarded as being of high priority. Consequently, the Company works closely together with Atelier Groot Eiland VZW, a social enterprise, with the aim of providing opportunities for social employment in the production process. The delicious micro-vegetables which result, are not only better for the climate, but are also the result of socially responsible labour procurement.
Everything grows in a controlled environment which does not depend on the vagaries of the climate. We use energy-efficient LED lights. Consequently, every day in the city farm is a sunny day, thereby guaranteeing quality produce all year round.
Production is focused upon growing young vegetable shoots and herbs, such as cilantro, broccoli, peas and a range of other crops. These have a much higher nutritional value than mature varieties because all energy is stored by the plants. Additionally, there is also the significant aspect of taste: in a young radish shoot, for example, the flavor is much more pronounced than that of a mature radish. The result is super-healthy and delicious fresh shoots of well-known vegetable varieties. These are richer, in both vitamins and minerals, than their adult counterparts.
By working with as few middlemen as possible and distributing products locally, the Company aims to reduce their carbon footprint and to ensure that the product stays fresher for longer. Short supply chains are central to this philosophy – they aim to get food directly to customer’s plate as soon as possible after harvest.
MicroFlavours’ goal can therefore be summarised as: to provide major cities with locally grown fresh vegetables that are produced in a sustainable manner and with attention to provision of social employment opportunities.
Microflavours cresses are already available in Brussels restaurants, hotels, bars, and stores. They are an established market leader in Brussels and in French speaking parts of Belgium. They supply more than 120 top chefs and also provide micro vegetables for Carrefour and Delhaize, two large supermarket chains in Belgium.