In Brussels, fish and vegetables go hand in hand. BIGH (Building Integrated Greenhouses), is the largest urban product farm in Europe since 2015.
With a surface of 4,000 m², this European urban farm is located at the heart of Brussels, on the roofs of Foodmet, a food hall that attracts more than 100,000 people every weekend.
The products follow strict specifications in terms of circular economy: nothing is lost, everything is transformed. The energy for the farm comes from the energy waste from the building it is built on, and from solar panels. “We recover the energy waste from the cold rooms of Foodmet with a heat pump. The pumps are powered by electricity from the site network, itself largely powered by photovoltaics. So we mostly function from energy waste and green energy,” explains Steven Beckers, founder of BIGH.
Through an aquaponics process, the excrement from fish - South-American striped bass - is used to nourish the plants. A biofilter processes the excrement and transforms it into nitrites then nitrates, which serve as nutrients for the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers cultivated under the greenhouse.
Above, using an aquaponics process, aromatic herbs are cultivated in an automated high-tech greenhouse, where irrigation and light are controlled. Moreover, an outdoor vegetable garden helps with the social and professional reintegration of people from the Groot Eiland organization. They take care of the fruits and vegetables, transport them to the restaurant of the organization and prepare them.
Steven Beckers has no intention to stop there and is now turning to France. “We are planning several projects in Belgium and in France. There are many opportunities and we want to progress step by step with a second project in the Hauts-de-France, and others in and around Paris.”