BRAL an orchard in the street – fruit on the pavement

3. September, 2013

Contributor:  Brussels Environment

Sour cherry tree orchard created with local residents in the city centre, providing cherries to brew Kriek (cherry beer) nearby, raising awareness among passers-by.



BRAL is an independent association ( formed by Brussels residents and organizations engaged in making their city a pleasant friendly space that is both respectful of the environment environment and affordable. The association supports citizen initiatives and raises awareness in a spirit of solidarity and equality, valuing diversity.

Supported via a call for sustainable food projects launched by Brussels Environment, BRAL created an orchard in the public space in the centre, reintroducing a fruit that is emblematic for Brussels : the sour cherry that is used for the famous beer Kriek (cherry beer). This creates a short circuit current: the cherries grown in the centre are then used a few kilometres away by the breweryCantillon (, which produces the famous beverage.

There are similar projects elsewhere of fruit trees on public lands (Maps: UK: – USA:



BRAL teamed up with several types of partners to carry out the planting, maintenance and, ultimately, the use of nearly 100 plants (trees and shrubs).

  • With the help of thirty local people (residents, associations, shopkeepers … of various ages and origins) BRAL planted 44 fruit trees (including 20 sour cherry trees) and 50 shrubs.
  • Children decorated containers (during “Summer Fridays” organized by neighbourhood associations), the street workers water the plants and the local café Moeder Lambic watches over the seedlings.
  • Creation of local and regional synergies with social and economic actors, such as an association promoting collective orchards (“début des haricots”)  and the project “Brussels yields fruits” ( .
  • Small opening celebration of the permanent open air exhibition (information boards) around a barrel of Kriek offered by the Cantillon brewery.
  • Public awareness raising through explanatory panels.

BRAL has really given a new function to the public space and created a network of people active in the orchard maintenance, aware of sustainable food and the local heritage.



  • A pioneering experiment: first orchard established in the public space in Brussels in a non-aware neighbourhood)
  • BRAL gained expertise in local economy;
  • A (very) short supply chain created for a specific use;
  • Attention drawn to a Brussels heritage that cannot be relocated  -for scientific reasons, Kriek can only be made in the Brussels region);
  • showed how to reclaim the city, and
  • closer ties between citizens in a Slow Food spirit.  The orchard has proven generator of social ties.  someone is working in the orchard it acts like a magnet on passers-by who stop to chat.
  • The trees are planted for the long term. The fruit harvest is expected to increase from year to year. BRAL is now looking for scientific partners to analyse the fruits and organize scientific monitoring of the project. The association has also launched a tree sponsorship project.



What are the lessons learn to be used/transferred/implemented in the other partner cities?

  • Many believed that vandalism would derail the initiative. But so far, only 2. This success is certainly the result of the involvement of the users of the public space.

Question to the network

  • Do you know of similar or different initiatives for fruit trees and shrubs that involve various “users” ?