June is the flowering month of the flax flower. For several years now, this budding blue blossom has been the perfect moment for Museum Texture to organize a series of bicycle tours. So lubricate your calves and jump on your bike with your smartphone in hand for a 38-kilometer tour along flax relics from the past and present.
The flax of the Lys
The Leie region forms the heart of the flax region. This was true a good hundred years ago, and it still is today. Due to the abundance of flowing water, the Lys was the ideal place for retting flax, a method in which the fibers are detached from the woody core. Moreover, the softness and temperature of the Lys water provided the best root conditions.
During the interwar period, the first hot water retting plants came into vogue. Because they artificially generated the ideal conditions of river rooting, flax growers became less dependent on the Lys. A steam engine heated the water that was sprayed through copper tubes in the floor into the concrete root chamber. Today you can find these retting chambers here and there in the landscape.
By the way, did you know that the activity that characterizes the Leie region today often has its roots in flax? Vanden Avenne cattle feed company in Ooigem, for example. Anno 2021, the fifth generation is at the helm of what is one of the largest cattle feed factories in Belgium. The brown fleece left over from the oil production from flax seed is ground there to make concentrated feed. In this way, nothing goes to waste.
Two wheels and numerous fields of flax
The ErfgoedApp tells you much more about the fascinating relationship between flax and the Leie region. The bicycle tour takes you along eleven flax fields and flax relics in the landscape. Cycle along junctions and discover extra facts and stories at special places. You will be notified when you are near such a spot.
The flax plant grows quickly. There are barely 100 days between sowing in March and harvesting in July. Each flax flower blooms for only a few hours. It buds in the morning and is fully open around 10:00 a.m.. From 2 p.m. it begins to close and gradually wilts. So getting up early is the message!
You can pick up the "Flax Safari in the Leiestreek" cycling loop for free at Texture starting Friday, June 18. Fancy a bike ride along flax fields in the Meetjesland or in the Flemish marshes and polders near the coast? Then be sure to take a look at vlasveldeninvlaanderen.be.
Spot the flax fields in your neighborhood or in your own garden
On vlasveldeninvlaanderen.be you can also find all the flax plots in Flanders with a convenient click on the map. This year we counted 1,150 of them. Maybe there is one near you?
You cannot plant flax in the same plot two years in a row. So the location of the flax fields is different every year.
Want to know more about that brave little plant? Every visitor to Texture will receive a free bag of flax seeds. That way you can sow your own mini flax seed at home. Share photos of the growth and flowering of your own flax experiment with #IedereenVlasboer and tag @TextureKortrijk.Arnaud Van Robaeys already did it for you. He reports weekly from his flax field in northern France with #lesaventuresdelinette. Follow the irresistible adventures of Linette, our smallest reporter in the field, on Texture's Facebook page.
And remember well: C'est juin qui fait le lin! All on a flax safari!
- Turn on gps on your mobile device.
- Download the tour at ErfgoedApp.
- Open the app and allow the requested notifications.
Starting and ending point of the bicycle route: parking Markt, Stationsstraat, Ingelmunster.