Abdel waters the various vegetables in the garden of the Engraineurs

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Les Engraineurs

Gardening in the Parisian Suburbs

In May 2016 I met Manu, inhabitant of Sarcelles at the origin of "Les Engraineurs". With his wife they embarked on an unusual adventure in this suburban low-income city located in the north of Paris. They created a urban garden in the middle of the HLM (social housing buildings). With the support of some neighbors, they built the first gardens. In Sarcelles, the biggest "social-housing city" of France, people don't have the opportunity to met each other because there is no collective spaces to socialize. Soon, the Engraineurs started making regular meetings in order to create new links between the neighbors. If gardening was the primary goal, the experience also allowed them to create new friendships and promote new social networks based on gardening. Thanks to these meetings, Les Engraineurs where able to set up cultural activities within this new space. Between January and July, they organized parties and screening in the open air. At the last event, more than 200 neighbors gathered to screen a film about urban agriculture in the United States. Gardening is a way of being committed with the environment and their own community. It is also a tool of resilience in order to overcome the negative stereotypes conveyed by local media related to Sarcelles.

Gardening is also a way to teach children about the importance of eating healthy. They also learn the importance of preserving the environment with local actions.

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The Engraineurs organize between neighbors to regularly cultivate the garden.

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In the "concrete jungle", gardening is a way to promote short organic farming circuits. In this photo, David and Fatima two "Engraineurs".

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Fête de quartier des organisée par les Engraineurs. 

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Manu, in his building, invites the neighbors to join the Engraineurs.

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Eat, play and garden.

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Projection of a film about gardening At the presentation of the movie "Can you dig this", Manu and Johnatan present the documentary to the community.

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Children are the ones who benefit the most from the Engraineurs meetings. Neighborhood party.

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Young people participate in the organization and self-financing of the Engraineurs. In this photo Youssouf, 20 years old, holds the popcorn stand in the middle of the social housing buildings.

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The Engraineurs regularly meet in order to cultivate. Usually after the cultivation, they eat together.

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Gardening is a way to promote short organic farming circuits. The children learn how to cultivate and consume their own vegetables

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Such initiatives are unusual in Sarcelles. The lack of structures where the inhabitants can meet pushes some politicians (Dominique Da Silva in the photo) to get closer to the Engraineurs.

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The activities of the Engraineurs are volunteers. The screening was a success. They arrange the improvised "amphitheater" on the garden.

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