It’s only a matter of time now. London’s mayor Boris Johnson announced last week an ambitious scheme to grow food on 2012 plots of land across the capital by 2012. He has appointed a “Food Czar”, Rosie Boycott, to oversee this “Capital Growth” initiative. The London Development Agency is funding a pilot scheme to identify the first 50 spaces, at a cost of 87,000 sterling. How far behind can Paris be?
Driven by the perception that purchasing power is on the wane, community gardens have flourished here in Paris in recent years. In 2003, the Town Hall of Paris set up a special unit called the “Cellule Main Verte” (or ‘Green Thumb Unit’) to meet growing demand. “In five years, around 40 gardens have sprung up,” Alice Le Roy, member of the unit, told Le Nouvel Obs Ile de France. “And we have several pending initiatives.”
While some arrondissements, such as the 3rd, have no gardens at all, others, such as the 19th, have more than ten. How to get started? First you have to find the land, form an association, get approval from both the Town Hall of Paris and the mayor of your local arrondissement. Then the parcels have to be divided up and allocated. Many of them are really micro-parcels, as small as one square metre. But demand for them is fierce nonetheless.
Michelle Roncin, who represents the Ile de France at the Federation Nationale des Jardins Familiaux et Collectifs, notes that there are currently 3,500 people on the waiting lists. The federation is also working with projects to build eco-neighbourhoods, such as Le Raquet near Douai, equipped with community gardens on-site.
via Le Nouvel Obs Ile de France