Making Brussels greener: Urban Gardener
We love projects that make cities greener, whether it’s on the outside or inside. Since greenery is not only an undervalued feature of sustainability, it’s also important for our mental and physical wellbeing. One such project is Urban Gardener in Brussels. We had a talk with them, to get to know more.
Hi Dominic, how did your project start?
Urban Gardener was established on the 5th of December 2016, through its first online store. The adventure continued with the opening of a pop-up store in the Jourdan quarter, at the beginning of 2017. And afterwards with the flagship store at the Châtelain quarter of Ixelles on the 15th of June 2017.
How did the idea rise to start this project?
The idea started in 2015, at the moment that I realized that I had so many interior plants at my home, and that the logistics to maintain them if I’d be several days abroad would be complicated. So I searched for a solution that would allow me to preserve my plants from dehydration, offering them an environment that would be beneficial for their development, without having to worry too much. The vegetal terrarium then came as an ideal solution for a range of plants. Hence during 10 years I have specialized myself in the domain of micro-landscapes. I’ve studied about hundreds of plants, particularly adapted to glass ecosystems, made many prototypes, made several compositions for friends and family, searched for providers in Belgium and Europe, and selected the plant providers that work sustainable and ecological, to finally launch Urban Gardener officially.
Why did you choose this area to settle the project?
Because it’s a well-frequented area, and the people living here and spending time in this area do value quality products, products that are atypical and are not to be found in the major chains.
What do you offer? Who runs the place?
At the moment it’s just me running it. The offer of products and services is large, and focuses essentially on easy to manage plant solutions, especially mini-ecosystems (terrariums), stabilized plant paintings, intelligent home gardens, mushroom kits, etc.
How do you focus on sustainability?
The choice to go for providers that work in an ethical way and that respect our environment was made from the beginning. I have to admit that it’s not always easy. It’s one of the things that took most time in the preparation of the concept store. For the glass containers I have selected various providers: based in Belgium, France, Italy and Spain, for the containers in 100% recycled glass. I systematically pay attention to every product that enters in my shop. I limit myself to Belgian providers, and if it doesn’t exist, I limit it to Europe. I also take a maximum warranty towards the providers, to make sure that the highest sustainability is guaranteed for the products they deliver.
How is the sustainability scene in Brussels evolving?
Nowadays, 7 out of 10 people that start an entrepreneurial activity in Brussels, have sustainability as a major issue. Including a circular economy, and the 3R or 4R approach (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Hence the sustainability scene is booming, and that’s amazing! 🙂
What are some of your major challenges?
Like for every newcomer on the market: persist… Belgium is one of the countries with the highest taxes on companies and entrepreneurs receive the highest taxes of Europe. So the challenge is to persists within a very unfavorable tax condition.
How is Brussels doing as to sustainable projects like yours? How could it improve?
The regional authorities have put in place a series of measures and financial stimuli to boost the launching of sustainable projects. So the context is quite favorable, since the population itself is demanding to be able to consume in a more ethical and sustainable way. Authorities understood this and have invested. At the moment, this approach starts to show its results.
Do you have the feeling people are more into sustainability?
Yes. As I mentioned before, clients are asking for ethical and sustainable businesses. They realize that if we don’t change our consumption patterns quickly, we will crash. Concept stores such as Urban Gardener have therefore conquered the hearts of the clients very quickly, since they know our implication to protecting the environment and supporting ethical projects.
What are some of your favourite neighbourhoods in Brussels?
Le Chätelain for sure. Personally, I love the green areas. So quite naturally I’d say le Rouge Cloïtre in Auderghem, the Bois de la Cambre, as well as its Pikinik Elektronik on its grass in summer, the magnificent and huge parc de Woluwé, le Cinquantenaire, les Halles Saint-Géry, le Mont des Arts and its wonderful view on the city of Brussels. And many other places, because Brussels is a perfect city to walk and wander around.
Any recommendation of sustainable projects not to be missed?
Urban Gardener! 🙂 But also Tan, Agave Boutique, la Salon Vert, Vegasme, etc.
Thanks a lot for sharing your story and for your innovative work!!
For more info about Urban Gardener, check our review.
Good Goal is an independent guide to green projects and other sustainable places in Brussels and various other European cities. We visit every place ourselves and only list the most innovative ones. Our guide is made so that everyone can easily find the sustainable options, those that benefit local people, sustainable innovators and that show you the real and local side of the city. To keep yourself updated, please like our Facebookpage