A kind hello from the heart of Belgium!
In 2014 my wife Roosje and I bought an old farmstead in Muizen, very close to the historical Belgian city of Mechelen. Now that the farm has been renovated almost fully, we moved in with our three young daughters (aged between 7 and 2) Febe, June and Lily.
On our field we and friendly farmer Andreas grow numerous vegetables organically. We sell our veggies and fruit (and a wide range of other organic products) in our two small shops: one located at the farm itself, one in the city of Antwerp. We also attend several markets a week and deliver orders to local restaurants.
Since our project is still relatively new, our focus at present lies mainly on producing and selling healthy food, which does not harm the environment or our consumers' health. In the long term though, we plan to turn our farmstead into a place where people can meet each other in free and open-minded surroundings: during workshops, courses and other kinds of gatherings, preferably with some kind of campfire involved :) (there's nothing like bonding over a pile of burning logs in our opinion)
We'd also love to organise our very own (modest :) ) music festival, possibly as soon as August 2016! But as the Belgian expression goes: "sometimes a farmer tries to lift too much hay with his fork" ... So we'll see if and when the festival can genuinely take place!
Other things that make us stand out from the pack:
- Just across the farm floats a little brook, and on the other side of it lies the lovely green nature reserve of the Barebeekvallei (Barebrook Valley). This is a part of the larger "Mechels Rivierengebied" (Mechels River Area), together with the Mechels Broek (Mechels Marsh) and Mispeldonk (Medlar Marsh). The entire area is perfect for long walks or bike rides (there are special tracks for this), and it's particularly a paradise for bird-watchers. The ponds with reed and the many ditches, shrubs and groves attract the Kingfisher, Bluethroat, Sedge Warbler, Shoveler and the Tufted Duck. And if these names mean nothing to you: they're cute birds, come see for yourself, okay?
- Which beautifully brings us to the next trump card of our farm! Our resident Storks. These large birds actually live in the nearby animal park Planckendael, but prefer to feast on the many snails and frogs at our farm. Though perhaps it is more their farm than ours ... At least we've had many close encounters with them, during which you can read the thoughts behind their eyes: "what is this strange beakless bird doing on my territory? Hmm, go on, I'll quietly tolerate it, but I certainly won't share my frogs." In short, the Storks here have been granted the same status of Holy Cows, which is why we've incorporated them into the logo of the farm. All hail the Stork!
- Work hard, play hard! When you're sick of farming and serene nature, you can visit the city of Mechelen. There's always something to do there, particularly in the summer, with some sort of cultural event nearly every single weekend. Looking for something more sporty? The "recreational domain" of Hofstade is just a couple of kilometers away. It's got a big swimming lake, an indoor sporting hall, running tracks, a mountainbike circuit and some sort of "rope track", apparently. :)
- Finally, for those who want to spend a lot of time sightseeing Belgium: we are located perfectly for that :) 20 minutes on the train to Brussels, Antwerp and Louvain (or you could even go by bike), and good connections with Ghent (45 minutes), Bruges (80 minutes) and the rest of Belgium and Europe.
So honestly, you have no reasons not to want to come to stay with us!
Help with Eco project
At the farm, we'd mainly need help with planting, weeding and harvesting. You could also assist us by taking care of the animals (chickens and sheep). Something else we do is prepare vegetable and fruit packages for families, once per week. This is a very time-consuming activity, so it would be great if we had an extra pair of hands there :)
An optional activity is helping with the last ongoing renovation: our barn/event hall. This is only if you like heavy building work! Don't worry, we won't force a trowel or sledgehammer into your hands.
Dutch, French, English, German, some Spanish and some Italian, proficient in sign language (the unofficial kind)
A cosy caravan or a romantic barn attic, your choice! And for those who prefer camping, there's plenty of room for that too.
We have new showers and toilets, and multiple trees that are very suitable for peeing against.
We are a 10 minute walk away from a train station and a 20 minute bike ride from the city of Mechelen, meaning it takes no time at all to get out of here and start sightseeing the lovely land of Belgium! There are the famous medieval cities of Louvain, Ghent and Bruges, the capital of Europe Brussels, the self-proclaimed capital of the world Antwerp, and the impressive, rolling landscapes in southern Belgium.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
What you would get from us in return? A very warm and welcoming environment with a young and energetic family, right next to a nature reserve, the animal park Planckendael and the beautiful, vibrant city of Mechelen. And of course, we'd gladly teach you all we've learned in our years of organic farming!
There are many good reasons to choose Belgium for your volunteering experience. We are right in the heart of Europe, meaning we combine the best of all of it: the northern European work ethic, the southern European joie de vivre, the western European liberal values, and the eastern European perseverence.
An extra advantage is that we ourselves are right in the centre of Belgium, a nation packed with history and places of interest, and a 10 minute walk away from a train station. From here, you can easily get to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, the Flemish coast and the beautiful green hills and rockier parts of Wallonia.
5 hours per day, 5 days a week
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