RLT Today contributor Isabella Eastwood presents her guide to community supported agriculture in Luxembourg.
I will never forget the experience of standing in a slaughterhouse.
But it’s not the visceral experiences that stand out. Yes, I remember the sights, sounds, the smells and the heat. I smelled blood and singed flesh, and I felt nauseated. However, overall there was the overwhelming sense of alienation from the food that I consume. I felt like I had been cheating, relying on sterilised packaging, standardised producing and homogeneous supermarket aisles so I could sit comfortably at my table and eat without thinking about what I was eating.
This isn’t an article to discuss the pros and cons of meat eating, although the ease with which humans consume inordinate amounts of meat is partly bound up with our divorce from the slaughter. The reason I bring up that particular memory is because it was the most jarring in its difference to my daily life. It exposed the disconnect most of us have to our food. How can you appreciate and be mindful of what you eat if you are completely removed from its origins?
Modern life is greedy with time, and work, responsibilities, family, success, and survival rival the slow cycle of natural production. Few circumstances yield the occasion to get to know our food. At least that is what we have been told for much of our lives.
© Vum Greis
Developments such as the climate crisis and a global pandemic – themselves interlinked – have introduced a new narrative. Not only are governments encouraging the public to consume locally, an awareness surrounding the precariousness of our future and the natural environment is steadily gaining traction.
As big-budget documentaries trace the consequences of mass production and hail new farming methods, studies emphasise the beneficial qualities of getting back in touch with nature, and we are witnessing the re-birth of smaller, sustainable initiatives that focus on eco-awareness and regional growth.
Community supported agriculture is, as the name says it, a collaboration between a community and its farmers, a symbiosis of land, workers and consumers. Education and regeneration are integral parts of these projects. Reintroducing a sense of familiarity with food, reducing the trajectory between produce and consumer, and teaching the public about the importance of sustainability and soil are the foundation of these enterprises.
P.S.: We have put together some guides on local produce before (head there for some places that have not been included here for that reason).
La Ferme du Bout du Monde
Avenue du bois d’Arlon
Luxembourgish national Katy realised her dream to establish a holistic ecovillage project this year. Three aspects underscore the project: living, producing/regenerating the Earth, and learning.
“We called it a Farm at the Edge of the World because we believe that our fossil-powered era is coming to an end, along with many other changes currently upon us. We are currently creating a […] learning space for people who are perhaps seeking out new ways and alternatives, a space for partnerships with the city of Arlon and various art and social organisations, a space for cultivating while regenerating the Earth.
We have been developing a polyculture fruit and nut orchard and a food forest, along with a vegetable garden. We have some unusual fruits here as well. We are hoping to create a cooperative for the products and derivatives (nut oil, fruit produce...).
We are also offering trainings in permaculture through our partner organisation Mycelium Design. We are beginning the recruitment process for residents in January 2021, so interested people can sign up to the newsletter to stay up to date with developments.”
Website / Phone: +352 691 643 124
© Letz Grow
Route d’Echternach, Junglinster
Shop opening hours: Thursday and Friday from 3pm-7pm, Saturday 9am-1pm, with plans to be extended.
Family bag requests can be sent through the website or the Facebook group (which includes more information on their produce and activities). FYI: family bags are only available during the growing season (typically from May until end of October).
According to Senad, who started the project, while Luxembourg’s local meat and dairy production is at a good level, organic vegetable growing might be slowly waking up, but is still far behind neighbouring countries.
“We still import almost 90% of organic produce which is far from sustainable and where it should be. […] We use no dig techniques that do not disturb soil but enrich it each year by using organic compost and mulches.
The main drivers to start this business are combination of frustration of not knowing where our food comes from, extreme levels of harmful chemicals used in industrial food production that affects our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our precious environment; and the urge to be part of that change towards more sustainable food production and people’s relationship with food consumption.
Each change starts with a small step and at Letzgrow we truly believe we can help with this awareness of the importance of eating healthy organic foods but also to promote, motivate and educate people how to start growing their own food even in the small places they might have available. Growing your own veggies, no matter how much, has many benefits to people doing it but also represents that small step towards keeping our environment clean.”
Senad also encourages other entrepreneurs to get in touch:
“We support local start-ups and individuals producing anything that echoes the spirit of our company by supplying them or giving them opportunities to sell in our shop. Should there be anyone there with such products they should contact us!”
Rue de la Montée, 3321 Berchem, Luxembourg
Another CSA in Berchem, Vum Gréis is run by Yves Diederech on his grandparents' land. There are two subscriptions: you can grow your own vegetables on the land, or reap the benefits with of a veg box from a collection point.
The farm is built on the four “No” principles: no digging, no treatment, no heavy machinery, and no packaging. Here too, there is an emphasis on pedagogy, with children of different ages welcome to explore the space through different workshops and activities.
© Vum Gréis
9, rue de l’Église, 6315 Beaufort
“We are an educational permaculture garden that focuses on teaching permaculture to both schoolchildren and adults. The garden is open to anyone all year round and we propose different activities relating to permaculture and holistic practices on a regular basis, with a focus on regenerating the land.
All the veggies are produced within the school activities. So everything we grow we harvest, prepare and eat together in the garden […] children should learn where the cycle begins and where it ends, and that we are all part of it and connected to the natural world. There is no separation, we are all one.”
While the garden is more aimed at education than consumption, Annick maintains that “the consuming part also plays a huge role, because people should have the possibility to get back to the land, to know where their veggies come from and what they need to be produced. So one of the most important parts of the garden is definitely also the community part, where we sit together and eat, and learn how to prepare what we've sown.”
“The activities range from seasonal work like sowing, planting, harvesting, to specific thematic learning about soil, the water cycle, cooking etc. But we also build a lot of stuff together, for example the children have been building a huge insect hotel already, and birds nests, and so on. In the adult workshops, beside from the permaculture gardening workshops, I also focus on the inner wellbeing aspect, like inner transition and deep ecology.”
Wandel.BAR provides a bit more of an experimental ground for individuals to come together and discover how to work with earth’s abundant fruit. While you cannot buy fruit or vegetables (unless there are some to give away, which is said to happen!), you also don’t have to pay to get involved.
Johny Diderich is the proud host here: “The setup is a big 2000m2 garden and orchard behind my house and people are welcome to come and visit and help if they want! It’s more educational [than commercial], it’s about motivating and inspiring others to be more sustainable and self-sufficient by showing what can be done.”
With an attitude of creative curiosity, the individuals at wandel.BAR are all about exploring possibilities, stretching the limits of our resources – with respect. “bread, clothes, cosmetics, spices etc. and maybe even furniture, mattresses, houses” ponders the website, promising collective research, successful mistakes and collaborative experimentation.
Alongside Tania Walisch, wandel.BAR is part of CELL’s (Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg) transition movement. Unfortunately, CELL’s website is currently down, but there are a number of other CSAs under the project. Until then there is their Facebook and you can also subscribe to their newsletter for updates.
As the landscape of urban farming is always evolving and growing (sorry not sorry), there is always more to publish (the seeds have already been sown… again, sorry). Any further gardeners who want to advertise their space, get in touch!