An Urban Farm at the Abatan site
Abatan NV, the instigator of the food hall, is now also the driving force behind the Urban Farm concept. In the same way as with the food hall, Abatan is providing the infrastructure necessary to enable the Urban Farm to develop. You can also watch the RTBF newstopic on this subject.
The expansion of the impending food hall project consists of the realisation of a roof garden with technical areas and a restaurant. As far as benchmarking is concerned, there are few comparable projects of the same scale within Europe. The project will be examined in greater detail. In New York and Rotterdam there are a number of references that will be used as benchmarks, from which Abatan and Brussels want to slipstream in order to share the lead.
The 4000 square metre garden project will be constructed on the roof of the food hall, which will require some investment, particularly regarding comfort and safety. This includes reinforcing the hall's roof structure to support the soil for the garden. There will also be a lift for visitors, a goods lift to provide logistics services, railings, etc. The layout and construction of the roof garden itself will be carried out in co-operation with the operator, who still needs to be selected.
The restaurant on the roof
Abatan NV will also build the basic infrastructure for the restaurant, with a link to the roof garden (see picture). The internal decor of the restaurant will be up to the restaurateur. The Urban Farm and restaurant will be able to be accessed directly from the public area and they will therefore be able to function independently from the food hall. As a result, the Urban Farm will also be accessible outside the food hall's opening hours, including for educational visits.
Economic feasibility and sustainable undertaking
In order to make the project economically viable, Abatan NV will be able to offer the carefully-chosen operators sufficient start-up opportunities by making the lease prices appealing, thanks to ERDF's support.
Abatan NV can examine various other options, in consultation with future operators regarding the technical and financial feasibility, such as:
- a garden design with individual containers or compost beds;
- the use of alternative-energy sources;
- the recycling of rain water;
- linking the Urban Farm to the food hall or shopping area within a broader concept than just organic and regional produce.
The Urban Farm concept will directly create at least seven jobs and probably more indirect employment. The concept will be developed by the operator(s) in consultation with Abatan NV and closely aligned with the concept of the food hall. A number of starting points that are considered fundamental are:
- the cultivated produce must be local, such as various types of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chicory, asparagus, tomatoes, etc. together with lesser-known vegetables;
- the cultivated vegetables can be sold in a shop in the food hall, or used as ingredients in the restaurant attached to the Urban Farm. In other words, there must be a direct line from the producer to the consumer;
- the operators will underwrite a sustainability concept that prioritises quality, a sustainable environment, social progress and also happiness and well-being.
In short: Abatan NV is taking up the challenge to launch a commercially run roof garden in the Brussels Region, based on a professionally-run food hall.