th arrondissement – close to the Canal of Saint Martin. The city is divided by numbered neighborhoods, and this one is a very old one. There are even documents from the Roman occupation of France, in the sixth century, describing this region as old.
I was walking towards the Gare de L’Est when I saw this row of scarecrows, all very creatively built, the whole place looked very much like the garden of a school yard. Since it is winter there was nobody there. But, I could well imagine a school group working hard to harvest some cabbages during the next summer.
It turns out I was wrong. The garden is part of a great initiative of the city administration to occupy all available plots with flower or vegetable gardens. The initiative is called Main Verte (Green Hand), it is a political experiment in order to stimulate larger communications in a neighborhood. To own a collective vegetable garden or a flower garden all one has to do is register an association in the City Hall, present a plan and the number of persons that will work in the initiative and start working.
If you are traveling to Paris, here is a list of the gardens, notice that not all of them have vegetables.
I suggest a visit to the homepage of the initiative website, although in French it is possible to see the different types of gardens one can build.
Address of the garden in the pictures:
Jardin Saint Laurent / 10e arrondissement
Square St Laurent,
68 boulevard de Magenta and 119 rue du Faubourg Saint Martin
Don´t miss the Church beside it, some parts of the building are one thousand years old (that’s right!)
Photos of the garden: Marcia Zoladz, Winter 2012