Belgium is famous for fine beers but Armand Ell’s wine has also garnered praise since he started growing it in a public park in Brussels more than 35 years ago.
It is the only vinyard of its kind in the capital, but now the city has asked for the land back, and at 82 Armand says he has nothing to lose, so he will lie down in front of the bulldozers when they come.
“We don’t use fertilisers, it’s like the monks a thousand years ago, ‘vivus humus’ in Latin. I use the living humus, ‘living compost’, like in the forests,” he says.
Politicians in Brussels have to respond to the needs of the community, however, and others want to use the public park themselves.
“We have a lot of demand from schools, local committees, citizens, who want us to have organic vegetable plots. And, therefore, we had to make a choice between continuing the wine growing by a private individual or to answer the demands of the people living here, the school children,” said Alderman Michel De Herde.
So children’s chatter in an organic vegetable garden may soon replace the sound of corks being pulled in this urban pastoral paradise.