Borgloon: a fruity adventure
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTO © BORGLOON
In the region of Haspengouw, the production of fruit conducts the rhythm of history. The apples, pears, cherries and berries create both its marvellous landscape and its blooming local economy. In the newly opened experience centre De Stroopfabriek, you can discover the juicy story behind your favourite healthy snacks.
Now that the soft spring breeze blows through the Flemish countryside, the fruit trees from Haspengouw reveal their colourful secrets. Thousands of cheerful blossoms prelude the arrival of the region’s famous apples, pears and cherries, making it a paradise for cyclists and hikers. To top off your fruity getaway to the Limburgian countryside, the charming city of Borgloon now reveals ‘De Stroopfabriek’: a brand-new experience centre about the region’s delicious syrups and fruit. “This building used to be a syrup factory, but had been deteriorating for decades already,” says Annemie Pallen, the city’s tourism coordinator. “After its thorough renovation, the former factory is now ready to teach its visitors the story behind fruit. With interactive screens and buttons galore, you can immerse yourself in the history of fruit farming and the journey from seed till store. In the many available games, you can buy fruit in a virtual auction house or ‘genetically modify’ an apple or a pear to your own – however crazy – preferences. In between all of that, you will discover how farmers used to receive the weather forecast, which equipment you need for trimming a tree and a myriad of other fruity facts.
Next to the experience centre, another part of the big complex will fulfil its original purpose again: making delicious syrup. “We started producing the exact product which was made here several decades ago. Along with other local delicacies, it will be available in the regional specialties shop in De Stroopfabriek.” If you want to taste these treats on the beautiful premises itself, the on-site bistro De Smaakfabriek is the place to be. Belgian top chef Giovani Oosters takes it upon himself to serve culinary magic with Haspengouw’s traditional delicacies. “Next to syrup, our local wines, beers, meat and other regional delicacies will earn their spot on the menu; a perfect synthesis to end your fruity day with.”