Ostend is the largest coastal city in Belgium with 71 332 inhabitants, well-known by Belgians and often crowded by tourists on sunny days. What most of them don’t know, even the people of Ostend, is the 35 ha polder landscape located only 3km from the city centre. Yet, this city with the hidden and undiscovered treasure is one of the 30 partners together with ILVO, UCPH in the European project FOODSHIFT 2030.
In 2018 the Gardens of Stene opened the doors for the public, making Ostend the first city in Belgium with a food and agriculture park. In this park a group of administrators, volunteers and farmers work together to plan and manage the landscape. This multifunctional park is also in line with six goals of the 2030 Agenda of the UN: no poverty (SDG 1), no hunger (SDG 2), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), responsible consumption (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13), life on land (SDG 15).
Moreover, the Gardens of Stene can be divided into four clusters: an organic garden (organic pick-your-own garden), water management (network of canals and gullies), arable land (experimenting with old and new varieties) and a food platform (box scheme). Located only 3km from the city centre of Ostend, the Gardens of Stene bring agricultural activity and urbanisation closer together. Exploring synergies between recreation (e.g. bike lane through the park for children to get to school safely ), nature, water management and renewable energy (e.g. windmills).
Recently, Buitenbeentje, a farmer’s shop, moved to the Gardens of Stene, also offering surrounding producers the opportunity to sell their local produce. This fits in perfectly with the objectives of Ostend’s food strategy, Ostend Harvest. This strategy aims at making sustainable food accessible for everyone, by supporting short food supply chains, healthy and fair products and reducing food waste.
The Gardens of Stene and Ostend Harvest are initiatives of the city of Ostend to restore the link between the city and the rural surroundings. Ostend has definitely a pioneering role in reducing the gap between producers and consumers.
Rani Van Gompel & Elke Rogge – EV ILVO