With bARK vzw we want to reconnect people with nature and each other. Find out what we can do for you.
Needless to say, the importance of spending time in nature on our health has long been scientifically proven and you certainly don’t need to convince us of that. We are happy to introduce ourselves. Founder Trees De Bruyne is primarily engaged in innovative change projects but also certified circular ambassador, garden designer, food forest designer, forest pool guide, Feng Shui expert and organic farmer-to-be. Her holistic approach by reconciling both art, culture, nature connection and education with mental well-being was noticed not only in Belgium but also in Europe. Most recently, she was awarded the Innovative Local hero Edible Cities award. This award was presented by a European consortium of organizations and Cities and Municipalities working primarily around “livable” cities and sustainable food production.
What preceded. Our own Living Lab ‘Smuljungle’ in Aalst
With the Smuljungle.be in Aalst, we can experiment plenty. With this project, we are transforming a vacant lot into an edible tasty botanical garden. The first tasty fruit trees and bushes already have shelter. Thanks to Bart Backaert our ecological visionary, the City of Aalst and our Smuljungle fans because without them this project would never have been possible.
We find that many of our volunteers are especially in need of the beneficial effects of nature and are looking for connection, a place where they can tell their stories.
Our events with one of our troubadours “Siegelinde Heymans” who moves people through music in nature are an apotheosis each time. It strengthens the unity between man and nature, and we feel there is more to that. Our zen moments derived from forest bathing cause us to stop fretting.
In Aalst, we also work very closely with the WZC Sint-Job and regularly organize activities with the rest home residents. The ergoteam is always amazed at how we can connect back to demented seniors through our creative approach. In doing so, we use play and musical fun to reactivate their senses. But we also see that although the “Smuljungle” is literally at their feet it is physically impossible for residential care residents to travel those few 100 meters. The enclosed vegetable garden for residents with dementia requires a lot of care. The manpower and energy is lacking for the few volunteers to be even more active in this regard.
Do you recognize yourself in this?
With all this knowledge, we went to work. By focusing on supporting people’s mental well-being by strengthening that nature connection, we want to generate even more impact.
Many residential care centers are facing the same problems.
- The realization that nature connection is beneficial is absolutely there. But the ergo team is under pressure and many ideas cannot be implemented due to insufficient manpower.
- The number of volunteers doing their bit has dropped dramatically after Covid-19.
- The “energy” is lacking to keep motivating residents to come and participate.
- The lawn is looking atrophied and biodiversity is far from it. Garden maintenance is labor intensive.
- Kitchen garden boxes are a are nice alternative but not adapted to the needs of residents who are less mobile or in wheelchairs. (Ergonomics)
- Gardening tools are difficult for people with grip problems to handle.
- With climate change, it is more difficult to maintain the water balance of the vegetable garden.
The persistent long droughts in particular were the signal for Trees De Bruyne to research and look for solutions in countries like Australia and Africa where drought has been a problem for some time. Meanwhile, we have 2 years of experimentation behind us and with some pride, we are ready to roll out our unique concept of mini-smuljungle baking.
What can we do for you?
Toward a carefree therapeutic ‘Smuljungle’ garden.
- Analysis of the current situation and customized solution. We work or reuse the knowledge, materials and expertise that is already there and think circularly.
- Design and guidance for construction and rollout of “Smuljungle” concepts.
- Combine perennial “edible” plants, trees and shrubs to create more biodiversity and eventually provide a less labor-intensive gardening experience for young and old.
- Custom made ergonomic vegetable garden containers with a closed water circuit making daily watering a thing of the past.
- Support and pathway guidance
- Workshops and “train the trainer” sessions to pass on the knowledge.
- Pathway guidance on start-up.
- The four season ‘hello fresh’ plant package with advice and tips.
- Creative programs to connect people with each other and nature.
- Support through forest baths and beneficial “working in the green” moments.
- Creative/musical nature connection sessions to connect people back to nature and each other.
Has your interest been worked? Contact us for a customized offer.