The Landscape as a Social Connector


The hills of the Westhoek give depth to the landscape. I remember very fondly how my dad and me would drive to Kemmel with my grandma, to buy bread and to enjoy the view on the Kemmelberg. Conversations were always connected with the landscape. My dad would tell stories about his childhood, those would come alive by driving through the different places. I remember being grateful whenever I would be there with my grandma.

I remember the tour my uncle gave me around the Westhoek, we would have endless conversations. When walking from Oostduinkerke to Nieuwpoort, my grandpa would explain how he placed the white sheets for the airplane that would take photos when he worked for the Flemish Land Company (Vlaamse Landmaatschappij). All my family members are passionate about at least one of the many landscapes in this diverse region.

Kris and Luc from ‘Tuinsappen Lombarts Calville’ ( share their passion for the fauna and flora in the valley of the Wijtschatebeek, where they started a landscape project through crowdfunding in 2019. One of their many great products, the ‘LandSap’ (land juice), grants a small share of the price to go to their landscape fund. The fund started in 2020. Little landscape elements like knot willows, hedges, wood edges, (fruit)trees and water pools are being planted and/or managed. Luc asked other farmers and the municipality of Ypres if he could plant trees on their property for free. These actions increase the liveability of the landscape and the population of pollinators, birds, and other fauna.

Volunteers for this bottom-up initiative try to create a support base with local inhabitants. The project acts as social connector for everyone who values the landscape of the valley of the Wijtschatebeek. Luc gave me a tour to show where he planted trees, breaking up the fields and the road. During our interview, we talked about the complexity of the landscape, climate change and sustainability. These concepts are very familiar to them. Kris and Luc are very kind and want to inspire the younger generation. I was very impressed by the warm welcome, their positive message, and the delicious apple juice.

The way we experience landscape is just as important as the physical landscape itself. Inhabitants and tourists can use landscape for recreational purposes. “Living the landscape” can be an excellent tool to build relations. These connections give extra value to the landscape, making them ‘heritage’ to the inhabitants. The narrative of agricultural companies towards protection of the landscape can be much more than traditional marketing. Sustainable products can be interesting to many buyers and can help to protect the landscape. Short chain agriculture has to compete with the global market, though we can reflect on what we want to support as a consumer. After all, we owe it to our landscape, and the beautiful moments that are waiting for us.

Special thanks to Kris and Luc

Blogpost written by Hannes De Praitere


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