Rethinking the garden

One of the defining features of Fab Cities is the idea of acting locally and connecting globally. For the last year+ of posting here, we’ve featured a lot of international projects. Now, even though we’ve always featured local projects too, we’re going to spend a little more time highlighting local initiatives that, whether they realise it or not, fit under the umbrella of the Fab City.

For this first “official” post in this series, we’re actually looking at two of them in one go. Nouveaux Voisins (New Neighbours) is an organisation that invites us to “put away the lawn mower and envision a garden dedicated to biodiversity.” They design spaces that contribute directly to the environment; unlike the water-hogging, non-native, mono-culture green lawns found everywhere. Some people keep lawns because they love them, but most people keep them out of force of habit and because they don’t really know about all that many options, which is why Nouveaux Voisins comes in.

“If, as a professional landscaper, I have trouble knowing which plants should go where, how can we expect the average citizen to know?” says Asselin. As a way of helping to build this knowledge, Nouveaux Voisins offers test gardens, with plants adapted to an area and customized for individuals or municipalities. Imagine a catalogue of tried-and-tested garden models. […]

There are so many plants that can feed insects and offer microhabitats to small mammals, while looking nice and not requiring much upkeep. Why not transform our grass into vegetable gardens, strawberry fields, or native grasses that thrive in the sun?

The article also takes us to their guiding principles: share with nature; understand the value of native plants; draw inspiration from the complexity of nature; give your neighbours a heads-up; and take care, rather than doing maintenance.

Re-inventing how we use our territory, rediscovering the diversity of nature, helping out the ecosystems that surround us, producing local food, re-integrating native species/solutions. Very Fab City.

The second organization I want to quickly highlight here is actually at the same link, having published the original profile. BESIDE Media is “an independent magazine and media brand that aims to bridge the gap between humans and nature.” Cities are often seen as completely separate from nature, but has we are seeing with climate change and its repercussions, as we explore resilience solutions, and as we (re)discover the benefits of nature on humans, even in cities, this bridge that BESIDE is building brings lessons not only for people in nature, but also for nature in cities.

Here’s a short video they made about Nouveau Voisins, part of their series Les moments de travers.

Image: Nouveaux Voisins by BESIDE Media.