In keeping with its motto, “To act, to preserve, to teach”, the Colinéo Association has been working hard since 1973 to protect and enhance its nature areas. After engaging in strong protests against the increasing urbanisation of the Piedmont Plains in the Chaîne de l'Étoile north of Marseille, it has taken on other significant environmental issues in the Bouches-du-Rhône.
In neighbourhoods north of Marseille, adjacent to the Batarelle Haute towers, Colinéo supports and manages the Restanques Conservatory, Orchard and Mediterranean Garden. The project is the result of its relentless effort to prevent the urbanisation of a former farming estate within the suburban area (the Domaine de Party), which used to proudly claim over 100 hectares. Today, the Conservatory covers only six hectares, which have been ceded to the Association for a period of 99 years by the municipality of Marseille and the site residents (Batarelle II co-ownership). It hosts many of Colinéo’s initiatives in Mediterranean plant preservation, in safeguarding and rediscovering species and varieties of fruits and vegetables that are forgotten today, and in highlighting the know-how of retired Provencal farmers through bancaous (narrow terrace) farming.
Colinéo works with all interested participants through a variety of approaches that raise awareness about environmental protection and help everyone to get committed. Through the “Chantiers Nature” (Nature Works), the Association is involving the public in collective initiatives including the upkeep of the site’s green spaces; planting an herb garden; making and using compost and picking orchard fruit. Its objective is to preserve and promote biodiversity (a conservatory orchard, a forgotten vegetable garden and a Mediterranean style garden featuring plant species that are typical of lime-rich soil Lower Provence), and more widely to promote sustainable developmentobjectives, (energy management, waste management, water management etc.)
In order to better raise awareness of those activities among the neighboring population, Colinéo has designed a project called “Dialogue and Sharing in the Garden”. It is to involve people from all backgrounds, many of whom are experiencing social hardship, with volunteers from the Association as part of the “Chantiers Nature”. With support from the Veolia Foundation the Association has purchased reception and safety equipment for the site to further develop its activities and diversify its participants.