In October 2021, the organic farm Bioboer Mark, managed by Mark Van Hove in Bekkevoort, was the first organic farm in Belgium to be awarded 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 or any animal inputs.
The Biocyclic Vegan Quality Seal covers organic farmers in many countries such as Germany, Greece, France, Romania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and recently Canada. Although the movement in Belgium is currently small, Mark Van Hove has been working with plant-based fertilization for many years. Working purely plant-based seemed logical to him and the needs for his farm. The extraction of goods each season impoverishes the soil, therefore it is necessary to add nutrients.
Using animal manure risks having remnants of harmful bacteria (E. Coli, etc.) on herbs during harvest. This is one reason why Mark worked with plant-based fertilizer. As a result, no pathogenic residues were found during checks and each time the soil was found to improve further. Increasing the humus content of the soil enhances CO2 binding capacity. This way, biocyclic vegan agriculture makes an effective contribution to climate protection.
The company now grows sweet potatoes, fresh herbs and edible flowers in this way. Mark is particularly proud of the first successful cultivation of organic ginger and turmeric on Belgium soil, with harvest weights that exceed the wildest expectations. Choosing the right vegetable compost played a key role. The company started with organic certification and has now taken the next exciting step towards the Biocyclic Vegan label.
Bioboer Mark acts as a signal to raise awareness of the plant-based farming method. For many people in the agricultural sector. Biocyclic vegan agriculture is not just about banning animal manure, it’s about cultivating a cyclical and nature-inclusive agroecology way of working that promotes biodiversity and contributes to solving, among other issues, over-fertilization which is a key concern for food production. It is a way of agriculture that, in Mark’s view, has a real future.
The fresh products of Mark van Hove go exclusively to Foodmaker.be and are used in the many fresh dishes for their restaurants as well as for their supply to Delhaize, one of the world’s largest food retail groups, a leader in supermarkets and e-commerce.