Planting, composting, harvesting, raking, mowing, pruning, hoeing, maintaining the forest, and shelling beans—whether it’s summer or winter, there’s always something to do in the most beautiful garden in Bergen. The Hoftuin is located on the grounds of blooming landgoed Het Hof, an idyllic location in the middle of the forest of Bergen and the perfect place for the heroes of Scorlewald to engage in meaningful work.
Scorlewald and blooming have been working together since 2015. The community in Bergen was founded in 1953 and provides support to people with intellectual disabilities. Residents, known as “employees,” work together in various activities, including agriculture, art, and crafts. Scorlewald is more than a care institution; it is a community where individuals develop their skills, build self-esteem, and participate in daily life. Het Hof is part of the blooming Foundation, which aims to invest in socially responsible projects and give people the opportunity to develop. They challenge them to bloom. The collaboration with Scorlewald was therefore a logical step. Our “bloomers” now help others to bloom as well.
Simon is the gardener at Het Hof and a guide from Scorlewald. His heart beats for everything that grows and blooms. Trees, plants, flowers, vegetables, but also people. “In the Hoftuin, where gardening has a social function, all of this comes together. It’s beautiful to see how much love our participants put into the garden. Whether they pick strawberries, pull a turnip from the earth, or rake the path, I can see that they are happy. The Hoftuin is an oasis of peace, surrounded by green, without external stimuli. They are one with nature, can root here, and take their work very seriously because they see what they’re doing it for. The beans they shelled are served in the evenings by the head chefs of blooming Hotel and Het Hof. My day is successful when everyone can go home with a good feeling.”
This collaboration between Scorlewald and blooming emphasizes the importance of inclusion, sustainability, and community in Bergen. It connects people of all backgrounds and abilities by combining the beauty of nature and social work. Together, they make the Hoftuin a special place where everyone is welcome, whether it’s to learn, enjoy nature, or celebrate special moments. It is an example of how collaboration can enhance harmony in the community and deepen the meaning of this beautiful location.
In the Hoftuin garden, a wide variety of organic produce is cultivated, from meirapen (a type of turnip) and peultjes (peas) to blauwschokkers (blue peas, a fancy term for capuchin beans), as well as tomatoes in all shapes and sizes, salsify, strawberries, parsnips, and edible flowers like violets, marigolds, or calendulas. Everything grown in the Hoftuin is organic, and you can taste the difference.
The Hoftuin is where two worlds converge—the world of the chef and the world of the gardener. The head chefs at blooming create dishes based on the available produce. The menu changes with the seasons, and the dishes are tailored to what the Hoftuin provides. Every year, a crop rotation plan is developed in consultation with the blooming chefs. The diversity is evident in the various crop groups with a six-year crop rotation. This allows us to better match the fertilization needs to the crops and prevent certain pests from establishing themselves in the soil.
“Every day, I walk through the vegetable garden and discuss with gardener Simon what can be harvested that day. Everything needs to align, from the recipes to the plating of the dishes, from the tableware to the service and the overall ambiance; it’s truly a team effort in that sense. Every month, I create a new menu. It’s a creative process, and the Hoftuin plays an essential role in it. I love wandering through the garden and drawing inspiration from everything that grows and blooms there, then tailoring the menu accordingly. Where else can you have ingredients that were in the garden just minutes ago?”
~ Daniël Meuleman, head chef at Het Hof
The garden is enclosed and private, yet at the same time open to the public and connected to the community. Many visitors express their appreciation for the beautiful products that we can harvest here. The participants have a meaningful workplace here.
The plant remains that are not harvested are composted here ourselves. Good compost is the basis for flavorful vegetables. And we have a very nice cycle because the vegetable and fruit waste from blooming goes to Scorlewald, where a large composting machine processes everything. After a maturation period, this compost is spread here in the garden. And when we bring the harvested vegetables and herbs to blooming, the cycle is complete.
A healthy plant needs a healthy soil. We don't feed the plant, but we feed the soil on which the plant grows. We do this in early spring by adding a lot of organic compost, horse manure, and cow manure. A small handful of fertile soil consists of billions of invisible organisms that are constantly working to convert organic material into plant-absorbable nutrients. Such a soil food web is a miraculous world that we walk over every day.
As you walk around the garden, colors and scents greet you. In the herb garden, you will find familiar kitchen herbs such as rosemary, sage, peppermint, coriander, thyme, marjoram, and parsley. But also more exotic plants like Vietnamese coriander, elephant garlic, lemon marigold, Szechuan pepper, orange thyme, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and verbena. In the greenhouse, you'll find basil (6 different types), ice plant, cucumber, tomato (5 varieties), bell pepper, chili pepper, and eggplant.
A wide variety of flowers and herbs attract various insects that help keep pests from taking over. This way, everything stays in balance with each other, and good growing conditions can develop with a rich soil life.
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