Ecocitizens: shared gardens

By Monica Lafon

Lyon April 5, 2014.

Photoessay of the shared gardens

After an inspiring talk with a young permaculture student, Valentine Prinet, she took us to see the shared gardens, an initiative promoted by citizens and enforced through Gran Lyon.

Outside the shared gardens

It is collectively managed by the BRIN d’GUILL association:

This association defines it as a space where all members come together and share citizen values, such as the practice of ecoresponsible gardening. They define themselves as ecocitizens.

The following poster, which is outside the garden, says more:

The idea is to bring citizens to cultivate their gardens, not only to have nice flowers to look at and sit and read a book, but actually, to plant vegetables, to share them amongst neighbours and why not, to organise educational activities like discovering permaculture, as the poster says.

Unfortunately, we were not able to go inside the garden, as it is open to visitors only when a person in charge is available.

But here are some nice views from the shared garden so that you can get a better picture:

The entrance
Inside the garden
As you can see through, different plants are growing in their respective lots.

Now what is the history of this garden? As the following poster describes, it all started when Emmanuel Louisgran created an artistic garden in the Mazagran Square. It is called the Amaranth Square.

Then in 2003, a little house was built along with a variety of other plants.

The blue house built in 2003.

It wasn’t until 2004 that the garden was transformed into a participatory garden: a shared garden. This is when the invitation was made to the community to come and cultivate inside the garden whatever they wanted. It transformed into a social space as well as a planting area. Every Friday, the members met in order to plant together and come together.

Tools of the gardeners.

After 2004, the garden keeps expanding and bringing in new trees and plants.

So what is outside the garden? We found ourselves trying to get inside the garden, looking at it from the outside. So here is the 360 degrees view around the garden:

What’s going on, right? It contrasts so much with the green space that is already existing inside the garden. Everything seems to be under construction. So we come closer to the explanation posters to see what this area is to become in the future:

The new Mazagran space, as the Gran Lyon plans to complete, is an attempt to reconstruct the area into a greener space. It is a new green space for children to play, for elders to come and enjoy, to share gardens and to create a harmonious social space. Composting is also contemplated!

The space is under construction and is expected to be finished by winter 2014 or beginning of 2015.

Here is how it would look like:

As you can see, the top right corner is the current shared garden, which is the only green space available right now.

If you would like to learn more about this project, go click here to go to the different phases of the project.

In conclusion, we can say that these ‘ecocitizens’ are the agents of nature in the city of Lyon and are the ones that pushed for the regeneration of green spaces, which then, through contacting the authorities and citizen participation, Gran Lyon studied the project and approved to make a regeneration project together with the participation of the citizens.