Urban gardeners in Caen (FR) had a busy summer!

RU:RBAN Transfer Network - Caen (FR)

After several months of online meetings and communication via email, the members of Caen’s ULG (Urbact Local Group) finally met on 2nd July at the Arlette’s Gardens for what was to be a meeting with a very rich agenda: update on what is going on at European level in terms of urban agriculture, update on what is going at local level, on-going RU:RBAN actions…and what happens next – after RU:RBAN.  

With regards to activities at EU level, ULG members were updated on what has been happening during the Covid-19 crisis in some of the  RU:RBAN cities: restrictions and anti-covid measures adopted by the cities in terms of activities in urban gardens, online ULG meetings and e-mails to keep in touch on what was happening at city level etc. Furthermore, during this out-of-the-ordinary period of time the Achen University presented the EFUA (European Forum for Urban Agriculture) proposal and was awarded funds as part of the H2020-FNR 2020 Call (Food and Natural Resources). The Normandy Region and City of Caen were promoters of the participation of Rome, on behalf of the RU:RBAN network, as partners.  The forum will see the participation of several  partners and networks such as RU:RBAN. As for this year’s  European week of regions and cities, it will take place over 3 weeks in October in Brussels and Mr Nicolas Joyau will represent Caen’s RU:RBAN experience at this event.


Meanwhile, plenty of activity has been in place in the City of Caen during the summer and ULG members were updated accordingly during the meeting. The Association “Rive Droite”  increased its activity in linking producers to consumers during the pandemic, involving several stakeholders.


The cooperative ‘’Toutenvelo’’ is settling in the Norlanda business incubator, situated close to RU:RBAN plot, for its project of an urban logistics platform for local products delivered by bicycle.


The Normandy Chamber of agriculture is compiling the Territory food program (TFP) together with Caen Normandie Metropole and Aucame. With regars to this topic, Ms Noemie Gourtay, a new ULG member who recently joined the RU:RBAN team in Caen,  is in charge of following up Caen and Lisieux TFPs and promoting non-food agricultural supply chains for building materials (straw, hemp…). This common follow up of TFPs and climate, air & energy territorial plan confirms the growing interrelation between communities and farmers, as well as the synergies between different projects and initiatives in the field of urban agriculture. Partnerships are taking place within the ecosystem of local actors (Incubator, Normandie Amenagement, Fleury city, …). Ms Julie Calberg-Ellen has been elected as RU:RBAN manager for the City of Caen. A deputy mayor to ecological transition, Julie Calberg-Ellen is also in charge of the TFP monitoring and the setting up of a local and organic food plan in the city canteens, with an 80% target by the end of term in 2026. This new mission proves the rising importance of food issues in public policies and Caen assets. As for the association hosting the ULG meeting, Arlette gardens was created in 1995 to respond to a need of fresh products for a food charity (Hearty restaurants) and to get long-term unemployed people back to work with the means of 2 job centres. Their work shows the priority given to the human factor (employees’ support, strong social integration and partnership, a close-knit and enthusiastic team, shared governance) while leaving room for innovation. https://www.lesjardinsdarlette-mondeville.fr/(link is external)


In relation to communication activities related to the RU:RBAN sites, Emilie Landerouin of the City of Caen presented some of the new graphic materials being prepared to inform citizens of activities taking place in the different sites: posters displaying info related to the urban garden, stickers showing the activities of the “Toutenvelo” and “La Maison” associations and a communication kit.


Ms Jeanne Duvergé of the City of Caen presented on-going actions in the RU:RBAN plots: it was reminded that the “Yummy” initiative has educational purposes and is an incentive to gardening, it will not function as a production site. Therefore, the designation of “sustainable food house“ is more appropriate than “urban farm”. The association “La Maison” obtained the keys for their plot in late March; the price quotes for pulling down a warehouse, repairing the concrete blocks that support the steel frame and the reinforcement and rebuilding of faulty parts of this frame are quite high but they could be covered by the City following the endorsement by the different departments of the City Administration ((buildings, sustainable city, urbanism, district committee, ecological transition, planning, community life). The Association organized throughout the summer some participate workshops to test a model water collector and planting in bins. ULG members were invited to join the association and meetings will be held every Wednesday to participate in the decisions to be taken and organize events on the site, as well as helping to co-build the project from the chore.


In terms of governance, the ULG is not expected to stay in place after the end of the RU:RBAN project (June 2021) discussions are ongoing regarding the possibility to set up a cooperative.


The next ULG meeting will take place on 15th October in Norlanda (Caen Peninsula). The  Gardeniser training, initially planned for the month of April, is postponed to October 2020, still to be confirmed. 12 ULG members have pre-registered.

Submitted by URBACT on 25/08/2020