News - November 6, 2013

Modern farming in an office block

Roelof Kleis

Wageningen supervises pioneers in The Hague.
Commercial urban farming in an old Philips factory.

De Schilde, an office block in the heart of The Hague, could soon harbor a beer brewery. Other potential new tenants are a mushroom farm or a fish farm. These are three of the entrants in a competition for ideas for urban farming in office buildings. The Hague city council is the pioneer in this field in the Netherlands. Tycho Vermeulen (WUR greenhouse horticulture) is supervising the project.

De Schilde is a former Philips factory. The seven storey building belongs to the city council and is partially empty, like ten percent of all the office space in The Hague. This prompted the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and environmental organization Milieu Centraal to put their heads together to come up with a new use for these wasted spaces. And they do not have in mind allotments for local amateur gardeners to grow their vegetables on. β€˜


This is about developing viable commercial urban farming,’ stresses Vermeulen. β€˜The initiators have to earn a living by it.’ It is not enough to have an idea; the proposals have to be based on a thorough business plan. Various workshops have been offered over the past few months in which candidates could learn how to do this. The deadline for submissions was last week, and the jury will reach its decision next week.