Citizen gardeners re-greening Paris
Paris is one of the most densely populated cities in the EU but has only 9.5% public parks. Faced with the challenge of inadequate green space, the city turned to its citizens to help green up the city with the innovative green permits scheme.
Anyone can apply to become a ‘gardener of Parisian public space’, receiving a permit and a starter pack of seeds and materials. The aim is to create urban gardens, green roofs, mini orchards, keyhole gardens, living walls, and whatever else people come up with, adding up to a total of 100 hectares of new greenery by 2020. In return for permission, citizen gardeners agree to avoid chemicals, and grow pollinator friendly plants.
Since June 2015, more than 3000 permits have been granted.
There are almost no limits to the scheme. Locations have been found in all kinds of public spaces - under trees, on rooftops, quiet spots by fences and walls, the idea being that this small army of planters' efforts will combine to help green the whole city.
It's a scheme that bypasses much of the regulations and red tape that hold back residents from creating small gardens in their suburbs. Paris is legitimising citizen gardening, and sending a clear message: ‘gardening in the streets of Paris, that’s allowed!’.
By granting permits, the council gets all the necessary information on who is responsible for a plot. The permits have to be renewed after three years, so there will be a degree of monitoring.
With those safeguards, it’s over to Parisians to do what they like. The council invites “any and all forms of urban gardening”, including “aeroponics, aquaponics, hydroponics, permaculture, orchards, mushroom cultivation, above or below ground, edible walls, vegetable roofs, climbing and descending plants, sedum terrace installations…”