Irene Van Impe

Merchtem micro farmers repeatedly targeted by thieves; fundraiser started

Micro farmers Antoon and Kim and their farm "Den Bosbeekhof" in Merchtem (Flemish Brabant) has been targeted repeatedly by thieves in recent weeks. 

It started in a relatively innocent way when a couple of flowers were stolen, but the thieves returned and also took vegetables such as pumpkins, courgettes, carrots and beans. Yesterday a bunch of kales vanished, our colleagues of the regional radio station Radio 2 report. 

Antoon Vanderstraeten and Kim Schoukens are hobby farmers with a relatively small field. They are shocked by the repeated attacks and are even considering stopping the project, which also has a social side. "It's not even about the money. We put a lot of effort and time into this", they say.   

Antoon and Kim sell their harvest at the weekly peasants' market in Merchtem or at the field itself. "Some people have a long-term contract with us and are counting on our supplies. Once a week we also bring packages to the local social services for people who find it hard to make ends meet. These vegetables are being paid for by other customers."

It's hard to catch the thieves, who strike at night, but there is hope. Friends have started a fundraiser to help Antoon and Kim. In just 20 hours' time, over 4,000 euros were raised. Almost 200 people made a contribution. 

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