A Belgian supermarket has unveiled plans to sell produce that will be about as local as it gets. The Boondael branch of the Delhaize supermarket chain in Ixelles, Belgium plans to start selling vegetables grown in a garden and greenhouse on the roof of their building starting in the summer of 2017.
320 square meters of rooftop space, or around 3,444 square feet, will be devoted to growing produce. Half of that space will be set aside for a greenhouse and half will allow the store to cultivate vegetables in open air. When the weather doesn’t permit use of the open air space, the store can continue growing produce in the greenhouse. The produce grow on the supermarket’s rooftop will be sold at a cheaper price than the organic produce they offer.
Although “in theory” the produce they grow could be described as organic, technically the produce won’t receive the organic label as it is “not cultivated directly in natural soil but on a rooftop,” according to the supermarket. Delhaize hopes schools and the community will get in on the action through visits and participation.
Brussels Minister for the Environment Céline Fremault told The Brussels Times, “Developing healthy, quality vegetables, based upon short cycles, is one of the challenges for the Brussels region…If everyone embraces the idea, as Delhaize has done, we will attain our target of 30 percent of fruit and vegetable production through urban agriculture, way before 2035, as is currently planned.”
If all goes as planned, Delhaize will be the “first food store in Belgium” to grow their own produce on their rooftop. The pilot project will help Delhaize evaluate how the idea works – they don’t yet know how much product they’ll be able to grow – and if a rooftop garden can be implemented at other stores.