#3 Save Space for Food

We go looking for unexpected places and methods to sustainably produce food – resource-efficient, and closer to the destination. After a brief geography tour and history lesson, you’ll hear from two groundbreakers who provide their own unique perspective.

Zjef Van Acker

Vertical farmer Ghent, 🇧🇪 Belgium

Infused with political genes, bio-engineer Zjef Van Acker has helped kickstart several initiatives to transform our society into a healthy ecosystem. He’s an urban mushroom grower, hobbyist philosopher and vertical farming pundit, researching the AMI model. Discover what those letters stand for, and his thoughts on our modern food economy, in this episode.

Esther Wienese

City guide & author Rotterdam, 🇳🇱 the Netherlands

Esther Wienese knows a whole lot about the rooftops of Rotterdam – she hosts guided roof tours in the city, she gave a TEDx talk about them, and she literally wrote the book on it. It is filled with inspiration and visions for our fifth walls, an often undervalued part of our urban buildings. We met on the DakAkker, a 1000m² rooftop that combines an urban farm, a bar and restaurant with a terrace, several beehives and a test site for rainwater buffering.

Additional notes & links

  • Here are the white greenhouse roofs of Westland on Google Maps. National Geographic had a great profile on Holland as an agriculture giant, titled “This tiny country feeds the world”. Or if you prefer video, here’s a short Bloomberg documentary.
  • There’s another interesting example of a place where you can see the effects of food production from space. Back in the 18th century, you could find fruit walls all around Western Europe: long brick walls facing the sun, that capture the heat during the day, and give it off again, long after the sun has set. They also protect from cold winds from the north, essentially creating a microclimate close to the walls. Temperatures within these enclosures can get up to 12 degrees Celsius higher than outside the walls. Ideal for crops like grapes and peaches.

    They technique grew out of fashion when newly constructed railways allowed cheap transport of fruits from the south. But in Belgium and the Netherlands, farmers started to build glass constructions leaning against these walls. Those panes of glass got bigger and bigger, and more affordable, until they looked like the all-glass modern greenhouses we know today.
In the French village of Thomery, near Paris, you can still see hundreds of parallel walls – remnants of 18th century fruit walls.


🎵 All music by Lennart Schoors, except:
Lee Rosevere – Thoughtful
Lee Rosevere – As I Was Saying