In October 2021, the organic farm ‘Bioboer Mark’ from Mark Van Hove in Bekkevoort (the Flemish part of Belgium) was the first organic farm in Belgium to receive the international Biocyclic Vegan Quality Seal for his herb and vegetable cultivation. This means that growers work according to an organic, plant-based farming method that does not use production animals and animal inputs.
The Biocyclic Vegan movement is still small in Belgium, but farmer Mark has been working with purely plant-based fertilization methods for years. The choice was logical for him: herbs are harvested several times during the season (read: every 3 to 4 weeks). This impoverishes the soil and you have to add extra nutrients somewhere halfway through the season. If you do this with animal manure, you risk that there are still harmful bacteria (think E. Colli, etc.) and other shit on your herbs during harvest. That is why he works with certified Belgian ‘Vlaco’ vegetable from the start. In addition, he improves the Carbon-content and the (organic matter-) humus content of his fields. In retrospect, this turned out to be the only correct choice: no pathogenic residues were found during any checks and each time the soil was found to improve further. The company now grows sweet potatoes, many types of fresh herbs and edible flowers in this way.
Mark is currently particularly proud of the first successful cultivation of organic ginger and organic curcuma on Belgium soil, with harvest weights that exceed the wildest expectations. Here too, the choice of the right plant-based compost played a key role. The company started with organic certification and is now taking the logical next step towards the Biocyclic Vegan label.