As I’m sure many of you who still read this site have noticed, I do not do very many farm trips anymore. Kale is much easier to find than when the project started in 2012. It’s not everywhere but it is out there. Book projects took priority as did motherhood, but that does not mean I do not enjoy heading out of the city every once in awhile to walk around the dirt.
It was a pleasure to visit V’île Fertile, an urban farm located in the Jardin Tropicale east of Vincennes off the Nogent-sur-Marne RER A stop. Founder, Raphael Luce, who has a day job by the way, emailed me months ago that he wanted to plant kale.
When I heard from him again this summer that the kale was growing well, I knew it was time to make a visit. The kale, both curly green and Tuscan, was lovely but what was more impressive was the community that makes V’ile Fertile possible.
Having only launched over 18 months ago, Raphael and the 40 members (around 12 who are very active) have accomplished many feats. Along with a harvest of many varieties of vegetables, a greenhouse was renovated and now is being engineered to have automatic windows that open and close based on the temperature. They sell the produce at the farm during the weekends from 14h-18h and hope to have workshops for both adults and kids in the near future.
I was greeted by Caroline, a young American (with a French father and passport) who started volunteering at the farm six months ago. With a degree in urban planning, urban agriculture caught her attention and the mission of V’île Fertile even more so: to create a more sustainable system for growing food. Vegetables are grown organically and there is a compose pile on the land to aid in soil health. They do not want to use chemicals, want to decrease dependency on fossil fuels in food production, want to be efficient with water and reduce the volume of waste.
Caroline told me that anyone is welcome to join the association. Whether you have a lot of gardening knowledge or none, there are people there that will teach you and keep you busy. There is always work to be done in the dirt.
This weekend, as the unseasonably warm weather is bound to come to an end, Vîle Fertile is hosting an Autumn Festival on Sunday with pumpkin carving, their last sale of the season and I will be there talking kale and selling my book. If it’s nice you have no reason to not stop by, get some fresh air and enjoy nature!
au jardin d’agronomie Tropicale René Dumont
How to get there:
Take the RER A to Nogent-sur-Marne. Walk five minutes to the Jardin Tropicale and go straight through the pagoda and the farm is on your left.