This Sunday, September 17, the Day of Agriculture will take place in Belgium. On that day, organized by Boerenbond and Landelijke Gilden, growers and farmers open their farms to the general public to let them see the ins and outs of running an agricultural business. "It's a great way to create some awareness of the craft of farming," begins Charles Cattoir of Primalof, who will be participating for the first time this year.
It is the 41st time this event will be held, and this edition's theme is prosperity, co-organizer Boerenbond reports. "Did you know that in Flanders, 120,000 people depend on the agricultural sector for jobs? So our sector is a vital driver of prosperity. It's that aspect we want to highlight at this year's Agriculture Day. 'It starts with us' is still the day's slogan. But this year, we're expanding our focus: we're looking at the beginning of the chain as well as the next steps from farm to fork," says a Boerenbond spokesperson.
Fifty companies are participating, from dairy and poultry farms to fruit and vegetable growers. Charles says he is looking forward to a great day. "Young people, in particular, are losing touch with growers and don't really know where their food comes from. On this day, we want to show consumers how Belgian chicory is produced, its complexity, and what's involved in getting just one kilogram of chicory on store shelves," he says.
A day like this takes a lot of organization. On the day, a farm could get as many as 1,000 visitors, and that preparation does not happen overnight. "It's not something you do every year because it takes so much organization. If you do it, of course, you must do it well. We'll welcome people between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m."
"We'll take them through all the different production steps, from sowing and harvesting to packing and packaging. We want to emphasize the short chain, too. A major retail customer, chicory seed supplier, and contract worker will all bring the beautiful craft of soil and hydro chicory cultivation closer to the general public," Chris explains.
"We get a lot of requests for visits, but that's often impossible because we're so busy. A day like this is then an ideal opportunity to tell the story behind this Belgian vegetable par excellence and, among other things, refamiliarize young people with the product. We want them to leave feeling they understand the process from beginning to end. We want to give them a good idea of the craftsmanship, and that's what we will do our best to do on Sunday."
A perfect grape season day
Grape growers Philip and Koen Dewit of Druiven Dewit will also participate in this day. The family business has done so before and welcomes the initiative. "For us, it's also a perfect time because we're well into the season. It's a beautiful grape season, so people can see the grapes in all their glory. They can also taste this year's delicious crop. We might even tempt them to buy a bunch or two," Philip laughs.
Druiven Dewit will receive guests from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its farm. "My brother-in-law, son, and I'll give them a tour. Then, there are three tours, especially for children. We can, thus, explain how grape growing works, from the soil to care and picking. After the visit and child-sized explanations, they can take to the barefoot path."
"Once the kids leave the vineyard, we've set up a small agility course and bouncy castle in the private garden for them. There, they can also have a drink and, of course, snacks, such as a delicious grape cake. We're a small company on the outskirts of Flanders, so expect about 500 to 600 visitors. That's perfect for us. Some farms may draw thousands of interested people, but this is already more than enough for us to cope with. We look forward to it again and hope for beautiful weather, but the forecasts look good," Philip concludes.