So, it’s been forever since I put up a blog post. Let’s just say that as my trip went on I had less and less time and less and less internet access. I’m home now and have been for a little while so let’s get this thing on track! I’d like to pick up where I left off which was in Paris France.
I spent a total of 2 weeks in and out of Paris, staying mostly in the Bastille area with some very nice friends of friends. While visiting the city I had the pleasure of meeting up with Emily Dilling of Paris Paysanne. We met for coffee in the Jardine du Palais-Royal and immediately bonded over our love for good food. Emily is originally from California and moved to France in search of a romanticized foodie lifestyle. She started a blog in 2010 highlighting her search for good food and the relationships she has built with farmers and restaurants along the way. She invited me to come and see the community garden that she belongs to and we made plans for later in the week.
Les Jardins du Ruisseau is located in the 18th arridosment, an area most known for the Sacre Coeur and Monmartre. The community garden is on an abandoned train platform that at one time hosted Le Petite Ceinture or The Little Belt, a small 20 mile ring rail line that was built in 1852. The Little ring was built as a link between all of the major rail stations within the city but has laid at least partially abandoned since the 1950’s and is almost entirely abandoned now. In 2003, the city of Paris started to get behind community gardens within the city. Les Jardins di Ruisseau was one of the first to take advantage of the program and there are now more that 70 of these community gardens throughout the city. The garden started in 2004 and now has more than 250 members supporting it. The gates are open on the weekends and people stop by to take a break from the hustle and bustle under the shade of a few fruit trees. Emily and I met at the Metro station nearby and walked down to the garden. The place is a little wild and overgrown but ultimately perfectly charming and very Parisian. There were a few people picking weeds and tending to their plants and a few lounging, eating snacks of cherry tomatoes and cheese and drinking wine. All 250 members have a small space either shared or individual within the garden but many don’t actually tend their plot, rather they use their membership fee as a form of donation. There are vegetables, flowers, fruit and even chickens on the platform, the chain-link fence is home to hundreds of small vessels and containers. It was such an inviting and lovely space.
On the other side of the tracks from the community garden is a seating area and a few goats lazily grazing on the grass. These goats and a few more chickens are owned by a new restaurant that has opened within the old rail station. The building is called La Recyclerie and at the time of my visit, it had been open about 5 months. We went in to check out the space and I was really impressed. La Recyclerie, in addition to the restaurant is a “maker” space where they teach courses on upcycling, DIY projects and home appliance repair. These courses and the people involved are pushing back against our current consumer, throw away culture and I’m all for it. La Recyclerie also hosts La Ruche Qui de Oui.
La Ruche Qui de Oui, translated; The Hive That Says Yes is a collective that began in in France in 2010. The idea was to find a better way to connect food producers and food consumers in a way that ensured fair wages for the farmers and good quality food for those that wanted it. By September 2011 the first Food Assembly was held in the South West of France and has now grown to more than 700 assemblies (or hives) in 5 countries. The Food Assembly starts with a host in one area, that host offers a space where people can congregate to make the exchange and all of the ordering happens on-line. Producers come with the food that has been ordered and local members come to pick up their food and pay. La Recyclerie was hosting a few dozen food producers on the evening we were there. There were bakers, cheese makers, mushroom and vegetable growers, potted plants, herbs and meat. It was all hustle and bustle as more and more members arrived to pick up their food. It had a feeling somewhere in between a farmers market and a CSA, everyone did a little socializing, some stayed for a glass of wine or beer and everyone seemed to go home happy.
All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon and I was inspired by all of these communities that have come together and made their neighborhood ultimately better.
For more information on Emily Dilling and her blog The Paris Paysanne, please visit www.parispaysanne.com
For more information in The Food Assembly; www.thefoodassembly.com/en (for the English version)