From Gardner, to Grocer, to Grower

It took me 15 years, but finally I found out that my passions are correlated, and I found a way to make a living out of it!


Written by Michiel van Zanten

After more than 15 years working in grocery retail, I decided last year to make a big change of life. It’s a change that stemmed from my childhood, since I’ve always been inspired to try new foods, new crops, new produce. This is precisely why I started off in food retail. Let’s face it, I’m a foodie.

With my work I traveled all over the world to visit growers, producers and factories, and after all, I discovered it wasn’t just the food making process that triggered my drive in work. It’s the passion. More specifically, it’s the passion farmers have for the crops, or “the babies” to grow into healthy and nutritious harvestable crops to feed communities.

Seeing all of these acres of green, reopening with fruits and veggies brought me back to where I grew up. It was there in a small village on the countryside where things seemed perpetually green. My dad had a strong green thumb, so I was curious to help out. He taught me the patience and focus required for growing and maintaining plants.

This is me preparing to initiate a boost of circularity in the Dutch Government.

It was the changing of the seasons, from yellow to red in autumn, covered under white in strong winters,followed by fresh buds in the Spring, and a climax of green in the summer which allured me.

Now I am aware of how our hurried lives leaves out nature. Development is pushing out green all over the world. I suppose that’s why I have a love-hate relationship with cities. Once I’m in the city, I enjoy the dynamic, but at the same time I crave the quietness of pure nature, without the hustle and traffic.

Two years ago I met Philip van Traa (founder of hrbs en Moss). It was his passion and his mission to make cities green and edible that sparked my interest and made me decide to give up my job.

Here’s me, with our crops!


It’s true, I get very enthusiastic around these crops! Here’s me with our partner Erik Buysman.

Our work instills this same passion and potential in grey cities, the same passion I saw around the world. Moss and hrbs. have already proven to be able to create oases at places that had no life or nature before. We create places and concepts where people feel closer to nature and can hide from the noise that today’s cities non-stop produce. Stop for a moment and see, smell, touch and eat nature.

This ambition drives me, especially because each element we stand for adds up to an even greater ambition to make cities really livable again.


For cities, for live, for a better future,
we create green oases in and on buildings!