I do not know if there is a country as loving the terroir and as fond of gardening as France. Many French from the provinces grow their own garden and vegetable garden and proudly get their hands dirty even though they are white-collar, well-pressed executives. The house with a garden actually means in the mind of the French house with a garden and orchard. And I also wonder if there is a country more obsessed with the quality of food than the Hexagon. The French like to eat well, but above all they like to cultivate well. Fruits and vegetables from abroad are not very welcome in the territory or in the French imagination because it is suspected that at worst they will have been treated with kilos of pesticide.
So I was not at all surprised to find that someone has invented a national “green” event. What if all the lovers of gardening, who are hundreds of thousands, agreed and armed with their shovels, their seeds and their carts were dedicated to decorating the cities with flower pots, fruit trees and other plant benefits? This is the basic idea of the project 48 hours of urban agriculture (The 48 hours of urban agriculture). On its website it is read that Music Day fills the streets with guitars and bands every year. Why not copy the spirit and the underlying idea but in this case to beautify the streets with flowers, plants and edible vegetables on April 21 and 22?
The event will take place throughout this weekend in 14 major French cities as well as Brussels. To carry out the “green” invasion in 7 of these large cities, a crowdfunding campaign in Kisskissbank with the aim of raising 3,000 euros per city. And in all 7 cases, the collection target has been exceeded. The event website proposes tutorial videos to help you green your city, ideas on how to make seed bombs, for example, or a vegetable hammock or tips to get started in home vermicomposting. And if you are not interested in signing up for one of the activities planned in your municipality, you can always propose your own.
Feeding is no longer the task of the farmer and the countryside, but also concerns the city and urbanites
The idea is interesting because it starts from the premise that the city is owned (and responsible) by everyone and not just by the administrative officials and the politicians on duty. And the project also presupposes that food is no longer the exclusive task of the farmer and the countryside, but also concerns the city and urbanites. In the same way that cities can no longer be compartmentalized, divided between dormitories, leisure areas and totally disconnected work areas, food can no longer be only the matter of farmers in the field. We must bring the countryside closer to the city and the city to the countryside in the good sense of the expression.
In fact, when one begins to reflect on our food system and industrial agriculture, the truth is that it does not make much sense from where you look at it. We put vegetables and fruits in our mouths that taste nothing, because they are species that have been chosen not for their good taste but for their resistance to disease and their ability to travel long distances and keep in the fridge. And that the fruit has no taste is not the worst thing ever. For the worst, the French are right and much of our production has been treated with harmful toxic products that we end up ingesting together with the beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Seen closely, this food chain does not make any sense, especially when technology allows today to grow in small spaces, vertically, with little water, with little land, inside a building without sunlight but with LED lamps, that is, practically in anywhere. We talk about it all in a post dedicated to supermarket greenhouses in Germany and in another post about family greenhouses, which are installed in the home garden and can feed a family of up to 4 people. The latter are proliferating like mushrooms throughout the French geography.
And instead it does make all the sense in the world for the hundreds of thousands of gardeners and weekend farmers to go out and grow carrots on rooftops, and strawberries on balconies and salads in supermarkets. And not only so that our palate wins, because it will be a local product, treated without pesticides, collected when it touches and consumed at its exact point of maturity.
It makes all the sense in the world too if we want to take our health and that of the planet seriously. Sunday is Earth Day. Shouldn’t every day be Earth Day? These days that are written with a capital letter make me sad. They serve to point out shame rather than to celebrate honors. Perhaps in fact the best way we have to honor the earth is by working it, and doing it well, without polluting it, without exploiting it, without dirtying it. What if all of us without exception were actually called to become farmers sooner rather than later, although weekend farmers and even if we live in well-paved cities and wear well-ironed white collars? I’m afraid the French have a lot to teach us about it.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.