A market for plant-based food where there is also room for some information: that is the idea behind the Spinach Academy. From 23 April this new market will be held every two weeks in the Zeeheldenkwartier. Hagenaar Marco Kool (23) started this initiative together with four local entrepreneurs: “We are all about good food and building a community.”

Marco has been setting up the Spinach Academy since November last year. “I have my own company that advises entrepreneurs in the field of strategy and process improvement: the Neuro Design Lab. Because I only eat plant-based myself, I approached companies that sell plant-based food. They said that they are mainly looking for a representation that can draw attention to plant-based food. This is how the idea for the Spinach Academy

was born.”

“The Spinach Academy actually has three parts. First of all, there is the fortnightly market where people can taste new products and do their shopping. We also organize workshops on plant-based food during those markets. Finally, I see it as an opportunity to advise other companies in the field of sustainability and innovation”


“I think the great thing about doing business is that you make the decisions yourself”, Marco continues. “I have a permanent job in the hospital where I do the information technology for the operating rooms. In addition, until 2020 I had my own company that organizes festivals and events. That came to a halt because of corona. Then I started the Neuro Design Lab and that’s how the Spinach Academy came my way.”

“As an entrepreneur I like to think out of the box and I think it’s super cool to set up something and add my own taste to it. At the Spinach Academy it is mainly about bringing people together to experience something. I don’t care if you only eat vegan. I always say: we are all pink inside. I especially want to make a bit of an impact so that we can handle our raw materials and products better.”

Spinach Academy

Marco came across a name for his market by chance. “Someone told me that the Hague domestic science school used to be called the Spinach Academy. That really appealed to me. You understand that it has something to do with vegetables, but you don’t immediately think of a traditional market. That is exactly the reaction I want to get, because the market is not only about selling products but also about education.”

“What I also like to tell is that I work together with a number of International Business students from Maastricht. They help me with the marketing for the Spinach Academy. We’ve only met online so far, but they’ve done a great job and mean a lot. I think it’s special that these girls from Maastricht are committed to a local initiative in The Hague.”

First market

The first market of the Spinach Academy is on 36 April at Grand Café Utopie on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade 2020. “There were several entrepreneurs with their products that day,” says Marco. “I now have four permanent market partners and I am still in talks with a few other companies. One of those partners is, for example, the Haagse Zwam. This is a company that collects coffee grounds in The Hague and grows oyster mushrooms on it. They make all kinds of delicious products from those oyster mushrooms, such as oyster mushroom and bitterballen.”

“For the first day of the market, I especially hope that the visitors are curious and that they can taste something. In addition, I think it would be very nice if people linger for a while so that the market also becomes a social place. Ultimately, I hope that the Spinach Academy will become the hotspot for plant-based food in the Zeeheldenkwartier.”

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