In Toulouse, since 2019, a collective of associations from the Pradettes district wishes to see an organic market garden farm, an educational garden and shared gardens emerge from the land. A moment at a standstill, the project has just taken a step forward.
In one of the densest districts of the pink city, at Les Pradettes, some 20,000 square meters of nature still remain. The town hall had a real estate project there, but the inhabitants of the district, supported by associations, imagined a completely different future for this fallow plot.
“We started from the observation that the demand for organic products kept increasing and that the supply tended to decrease. Short circuits, the desire to eat better, all this dynamic has guided us towards an urban farm project to feed the inhabitants of the district.», Explains Philipe Labailly, co-president of the NATURES Pradettes association.
This market garden farm in the heart of the city is combined with a 600 square meter educational garden and shared gardens. The whole was baptized “agro-urban oasis”.
The inhabitants seduced, the town hall much less
Citizen vote, letters of support, petitions … For two years, the project has been widely acclaimed by the inhabitants of the district. But the municipality of Toulouse, it did not seem delighted at the idea of giving up the land income that this plot represents.
The creation of an urban farm covering 20,000 m² would result in the loss of 3.8 million euros in revenue in the balance sheet of the PAE Bordeblanche, ie an overall deficit for the operation of 13.1 million euros. Without these revenues, the Toulouse town hall is no longer able to finance the construction of future public facilities, nor the construction of roads and infrastructure still to be developed.
A time at a standstill for these budgetary reasons, the project has just taken a step forward.
The project wins a regional competition and a European label
In the space of a few months, the Pradettes agro-urban oasis project has distinguished itself on several occasions. First winner in January 2021 of the regional competition “My solution for the climate”, he has just won, at the end of September, the label “Ambassador of the climate” issued by the European Commission. With the key, subsidies which are inevitably welcome.
In the field too, the lights go green. Since last September 21, the mayor of Pradettes district has given his authorization for the sale of organic food baskets on the central square. “The idea is to experiment with holding a weekly stand selling organic fruit and vegetables to see if the inhabitants will be there when there is the vegetable farm. », Emphasizes Philippe Labailly.
The educational garden project will also be tested. The town hall has just given the associations carte blanche to undertake educational activities on an ephemeral garden. 14 educational structures have already reserved their places for the coming school year.
The city, owner of the land
It remains to be seen whether the Toulouse municipality will validate the project and under what conditions? The associations would like to obtain from the municipality a rural lease for the future market gardeners who will settle.
Obviously, from an accounting point of view, it is less laudable than the sale of land, but there will inevitably be a return on investment for public health, social ties, the environment and the attractiveness of the district.
Associations must present their final project in March 2022.