Gardening with green hands

The "Jardins en terrasses" association has found away of using gardening activities, which enhance local heritage sites while respecting the environment, to help the socially excluded return to work and mainstream society.

Social and Employment

Plombières-les-Bains, Vosges, France

Claudine Vannier, Veolia Transport

8, 000 € to the Selection Committee at 2005/05/31

Project leader

Les jardins en terrasse

« This project combines local heritage with saving the environment and assisting the socially excluded. The new "chalot" (granary) will enable "Jardins en terrasses" to welcome local customers and visiting tourists under more appropriate conditions.

Claudine Vannier

Since 1996, the commune of Plombières-les-Bains, in the Vosges region, has had its traditional terrace gardens lovingly restored. Launched by the municipality, this restoration programme has been successfully taken forward by the "Jardins en Terrasses" association.

Its goal is to help the socially excluded to return to work and mainstream society. Through gardening, twenty-two such individuals have been able to rediscover the world of work.
The current team is made up of ten employees, of whom seven are on social integration contracts. All of these willing green hands have helped protect the local heritage and enhance the environment. In concrete terms, three hectares of waste land have been transformed into an environmental showcase: landscaped areas have been created, closed off by dry stone walls, one hectare has been given over to a vegetable garden and local schoolchildren have worked alongside the association's gardeners to develop a herb garden.

Increasing sales

To make a profit, a portion of the vegetables, jams and conserves are sold at the site. But in view of growing visitor numbers, the sales and reception area is proving to be inadequate.
The "Jardins en terrasses" association has decided to restore a "chalot" (old granary which is typical of the region) for storing products and welcoming groups of tourists, schoolchildren and patients taking a cure, during the high season. It has also decided to build a 20 m² lean-to on the side of the gardeners' house for the storage of equipment. Respectful of tradition, the association has chosen to carry out the work using local materials. The Veolia foundation is providing funding for the purchase of a "chalot" dating from 1860, its subsequent restoration and fitting out, and the construction of a lean-to for a total cost of 8,500 euros.