On this sunny May morning, we are welcomed in front of the presbytery, located opposite the church of Longué-Jumelles (49). Two parishioners, Jean-Pierre, retired, accompanied by Mylène, a young mother, lead us to the back of the large old house. Radishes, carnations, salads… the 400 m2 space includes around thirty plots of 4 to 5 m2 each. “When people come, they find the garden beautiful and well maintained!” rejoices the aptly named Fleur Lacarelle, parishioner who initiated the project.
It all starts in January 2021. Fleur who is also an organic market gardener and sensitive to the values of Laudato si’has the idea of making it a space that allows everyone to grow their vegetables in a responsible and participatory approach, while creating a link between everyone.
Encouraged by the priest at the time, she suggested at the end of the mass to call on people interested in this project. Regina, Jean-Baptiste, Michel, Damien and Jean-Pierre immediately volunteered to set up the “shared garden” team.
Lawn to sow, rose bushes to plant, chicken coop to consolidate… There is everything to do. And funds to be found: thanks to the participation of the parish and the welcome help of the Departmental Directorate of Territories (DTT), the garden was created in 2021 and constituted as an “Association du jardin Notre-Dame”.
” Here we talk about everything “
As the months passed, the space began to become known. Parishioners join the association and go to the garden to hoe or weed their plot. Like Michel, who pampers the flowers to decorate the church with pretty bouquets. But there are also residents of the neighborhood interested in gardening and nature, who like to chat between two swings of the pickaxe. Like Jocelyne, a septuagenarian who does not attend the parish, who came to join them this year. Or Mylène’s husband, an atheist, who regularly comes to the garden. “At no time does he feel excluded” rejoices the latter before adding: “In any case, the Earth, our common home, was given to us by God. What brings us together is Laudato si’ “.
“Here it’s really a place of exchange for people who come from outside, we talk about religion, about everything” agrees Jean-Pierre. “I even found my neighbor there. We discovered a common passion!” remembers the man who claims the parish identity of the garden. “People know where they are going,” he assures. Moreover, just look towards the back of the central aisle, where a pretty statuette of the Virgin Mary stands watch.
The wooden statue, which comes from Madagascar, was offered by the Bishop of Angers in September 2022 and blessed in the presence of the parishioners during the last open doors of the garden. “A link with the universal Church” that the small team appreciates.
Transmitting the values of the earth
The shared garden of Longué-Jumelles also aims to train the uninitiated. Fleur Lacarelle would like to create a “sponsorship system” between them and experienced gardeners. Above all, she dreams of training schoolchildren. “We hosted private classes this year and this is only the beginning. The children were delighted!” confides the market gardener who regrets that “some children do not make the link between what grows and what they eat”. Next step for the association: develop educational tools to enable children to recognize fruits and vegetables, and begin to familiarize themselves with what concerns the earth. “The Gospel is full of parables of seeds sown. So in turn, we sow…” she humbly concludes.
An article produced in partnership with the diocese of Angers.