Every month, an acquaintance of Trefpunt Groen Eindhoven gives his or her green perspective on the city and beyond. This time, we spoke to not one, but three people with a green heart. I met Bianca, Elie and Leo at Het Kloosterbos. Over a warming cup of mint tea from their own garden, which is almost vital considering I suggested to meet mid-December, we talked about what distinguishes Het Kloosterbos from food forests or community gardens.
Not a foodsupplier but a founder of a community
Het Kloosterbos is located on the Eikenburg estate. Initiator Leo Bakx started a community vegetable garden here in 2018, after Trudo took over ownership and management of it from the ‘Broeders van Liefde’ in 2014. In line with the social philosophy of the Broeders, Leo has been involving students from the Design Academy Eindhoven, among others, since the beginning of Het Kloosterbos. The Kloosterbos is not carried by one person, but intentionally by a fluid community of international students, neighbours and casual passersby; together they provide refreshment and contribute to the fact that anyone who likes it is welcome to stay here. Thus, Het Kloosterbos is a place to meet others, with food from the garden as a unifying element.
Leo explains that involving international students brings exactly what his intention was. It is almost problematic that as humans we are usually tied to our place of residence, not only do we sleep there, but our social circles are also tied to our place of residence. "I thought to myself; I'm going to do that differently. Just a place where you can stay for a while, and leave when you feel like it". For this reason, the roles within Het Kloosterbos are divided into functions, not persons. This allows for innovation and a continuous flow of refreshing ideas and encounters.
Designed for people who like Het Kloosterbos
"Those who like it come back. The Kloosterbos is designed for the people who like it!" Elie and Bianca, Design Academy students, immediately agree with what Leo tells them. Elie came here for the first time a year ago, and was soon to be found at Het Kloosterbos every Saturday from morning to evening. “For me, this is the best place in Eindhoven, and the place I would come back for. I have introduced my friends too”. Bianca also stuck around after she was given a tour of Het Kloosterbos last summer. “In the meantime, I have also brought some friends”.
Continuity of encounter and natural cycles
When I ask about the future of Het Kloosterbos, I get a refreshing answer. Not a mission or ambitious goal, but the answer that nature will largely determine the future of Het Kloosterbos. She will determine not only what grows in Het Kloosterbos, but also how hard, and what it will look like. Besides the cycle of nature, Leo also expects a natural cycle among the people of Het Kloosterbos. Perhaps he, Bianca or Elie will no longer be around in a while, then Het Kloosterbos will welcome others again. In addition, Leo hopes Het Kloosterbos can be an inspiration for more places where people can feel at home. Two years ago, for instance, volunteers from Bulgaria were so impressed by Het Kloosterbos that they started Zora, in the Balkan mountains. You can read more about that here.
Finally, Bianca, Elie and Leo want to inspire you to delve into where things come from. What they get at Het Kloosterbos is food for thought about other lives on earth. We share this place with plants, animals, fungi and are not alone on earth. They also invite you to come and experience that. You may do so in Het Kloosterbos, but also in any other place on earth. The house rule of Het Kloosterbos is;
'Everyone is welcome, but not everyone at the same time. What you harvest in Het Kloosterbos, you eat in Het Kloosterbos. Finally, whatever you bring to Het Kloosterbos, you take back home with you'
Would you like to know more about Het Kloosterbos? Check out their website here.