Partially inspired by the theme from our previous post Henri le Worm (by the way, my children loved the app) and in view of the fact that today was a public holiday, I decided to take the children to a field in Overijse, 10 minutes away from Brussels
Marie’s Garden is a great concept and a perfect example of a farmer who brings his clients closer to nature. Started in 2012, it was inspired by the farmer’s visit to Switzerland where he discovered a similar farm.
When you arrive at the farm, you find a large notice board telling you what you are able to find in the fields and what you are allowed to cut. Afterwards, you pick up a wheelbarrow (we could only get a small one because the rest were taken) and then you head to the fields in search of your fresh vegetables. They have nearly 10 hectares with over 30 varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers to pick.
The price of all the bio-certified fruit and vegetables is marked on the board as soon as you enter the field. You are then left to go and discover what’s in season. For some of the vegetables there is also a description of how to pick them up. But you are left to your own devices which is part of the fun.
We picked fresh spinach, brussels sprouts, rocket, potatoes, leeks and pumpkin. There was also salad, herbs, kale, artichokes, celeriac and butternut squash among others. The children in particular loved the pumpkin field. But the highlight for them was digging the soil with a large fork and finding the potatoes in the soil. Now potatoes is clearly their favourite vegetable. For the first time, they got to actually find out where it comes from. I am sure the next time they eat mashed potatoes will not be the same as before.
The garden is open only until the coming weekend and will then close for winter only to reopen in Spring. It is a perfect outdoor activity for children and adults alike. It is not often that we get a chance to pick up the vegetables we are about to cook. The experience is unique and highly recommended.
There is no entrance fee. Here you are guaranteed incredible freshness and traceability of products. As an anecdote, at Chef Sache, I heard Andree Kothe, a great German chef speak about how he used not only the brussels sprouts but also the stems and the leaves. I could understand why when I actually saw the pristine leaves which hid the sprouts. A visit like this will definitely inspire you to try new things.
Some recommendations from Food and Wine Gazette:
- If you want to know what’s in season and what can be picked, take a look at their website or Facebook page.
- It is advisable to wear boots, particularly if it rains.
- A panel at the entrance displays the products available for picking and also their price.
- Furls are placed in the plots where root vegetables are grown like potatoes and celeriac.
- Pets are not allowed on the fields.
- Take your own bags and garden scissors.
- You may want to pick up some bags from the counter before you head to the fields particularly if you are going to pick up herbs, spinach or salad.
- The fields are open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays but are closed in winter.
The address: Valkenweg 116, Overijse, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org