Black tomatoes, wild garlic, wild fennel, wild leek… Roof Food’s range of plants and vegetables looks a bit different from the average garden centre. The plants have been carefully selected for their effectiveness and durability and are grown by Jonathan with love and patience. Both beginners and more experienced vegetable gardeners can find everything they need at the Roof Shop.
“Here I can be sure that plants are grown without pesticides.”
Sander Verdure lives just two hundred meters from Roof Food. “I can basically see the roof from our bedroom”, he laughs. Sander got to know Roof Food through the roof dinners in which he and his wife participated twice. “Since the rooftop dinners will not take place this year, I buy our plants here and we try to put together our own dinner. In his plot of two hundred square metres, he grows mainly pumpkins, courgettes, beans, peas, potatoes, onions … and flowers to brighten up the house regularly with a nice bouquet. Recently, Sander managed to get hold of and repair a second-hand greenhouse. Because of this, he can now also grow more southern plants. “It’s not so much about being self-sufficient but more about being outside. We enjoy the produce, but if the snails eat something, then so be it.”
Sander doesn’t go to a garden centre. “Oh no! I think it’s much more fun to come here. Besides, here I can be sure that plants are grown without pesticides. That’s what makes all the difference to me. If that wouldn’t matter to me, then I might as well buy our vegetables in the supermarket”. Sander and his family are trying to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. “The commute to work for both me and my wife is less than four kilometres, which makes it easy to leave the car and take the bike as much as possible. We try to buy locally as much as we can and make sure to buy only ecological products. I am not saying that we are the perfect example of a sustainable living, but we are definitely trying to pay attention to it. Our next project, for example, is to transform our flat roof into a green roof.”
“What could be better than drinking a mojito with fresh mint on your terrace in the evening?”
Cathy Verschoore just biked from Nieuw-Ghent to Roof Food. She heard about the Roof Shop through a friend who is also into short-food supply chains. At home, she has a garden of six by six metres, but since it is mostly paved, she usually grows in pots. She has been doing this for about twenty years now. “Since we really like to travel, we wanted a low-maintenance garden. So no having to cut the grass, trim shrubs or water flower beds. Above all, we want to enjoy the work we put into our garden. For example, what could be better than drinking a mojito with fresh mint on your terrace in the evening? (laughs).”
“We are not fanatics when it comes to sustainability,” says Cathy, “but if we can, we will try to buy locally.” So no Australian wine or beans from Ethiopia, and pears and apples will always be Belgian. Especially now with the corona measures, I prefer coming to De Dakshop rather than having to go to a busy garden centre. Not only for safety reasons but mainly because I like this concept a lot more. So I will definitely be coming back! Also because some of the things I wanted to order were already out of stock, and I always come back for replacements when a plant doesn’t seem to grow well.
“It’s nicer if you can pick up your order yourself instead of it being delivered”.
Lene has been a Roof Food fan from the very beginning. Passionate about gardening and food, she has been following Roof Food from the start. Lene has a small city garden of ten by three meters. “Big enough to do what I want,” she says. “Because of the snails, I garden in open ground as well as in pots.” This year, I still have to get started because apart from raspberry and berry bushes, I don’t have anything yet.
I briefly considered ordering plants online during the lockdown, but then I received an email from Roof Food about the opening of the Roof Shop and the timing was perfect. It’s much nicer if you can come and collect your order yourself instead of just having it delivered. Today I’m taking sorrel, courgettes, peppers and different kinds of tomatoes home with me and if I need anything else, I’ll definitely come back”.
This story was created with the support of Circular Flanders, the Flemish policy-making organisation for a circular economy.