When motorway wasteland becomes a green space helping people to get back to work...

Transforming an undeveloped and neglected urban plot of land into a green space offering agro-ecological services.


"I am actively involved with this organisation. In addition to the funding provided by the Veolia Foundation, the Septèmes Les Vallons platform is also going to supply certified compost made from green waste. The compost will be used to restore the soil on the plots of land following scouring and earthworks by the ring road management company. Supplying compost and getting people to visit the project once the land has been restored is also a way of raising our employees' awareness about the issues of the future and motivating them by recognising the quality of their work."

Hervé Pernot

Heko Permaculture was founded in 2016 in Marseille and focuses on urban farming in the Mediterranean region. Heko Permaculture is a source of innovative projects and initiatives and is involved in developing a local, sustainable and resilient food supply system, echoing the modern-day requirements of urban communities (a return to nature and biodiversity in urban areas, a need to consume local quality produce, re-establish social ties etc).
Achievements in Marseille
The organisation focuses on four key areas - developing productive micro-farms in urban and outlying urban areas, transforming shared green spaces, creating resource areas for urban farming, and designing educational resources for schools.
Several projects have made their stated ambition a reality - an educational garden has been planted at a Marseille primary school, an urban farm has been set up in a priority area of the city, working in tandem with the local council, and a gardening scheme is underway in the same neighbourhood.
A project following the construction of the Marseille ring road
In Marseille, the building of the A507 urban expressway (known as La Rocade L2) has led to a significant swathe of land being redeveloped in the urban area and undeveloped and neglected land being cleared. Heko Permaculture took an interest in this land. The organisation contacted the A507 motorway operator in order to put together a project to transform a one-hectare urban wasteland. The aim is to turn the urban wasteland into a green space for the local community where a mix of agro-ecological services and activities will be developed for the local residents.
Named ERAU Saint-Pierre, the first phase of the project involves the replanting of the site to restore biodiversity to this urban environment and improve air quality as a direct consequence of this action. Phase two will involve a range of income-generating activities being put in place in order to provide back-to-work jobs for people experiencing difficulties. Production areas (beekeeping, poultry, composting, vegetable gardens and orchards) will be set up alongside the learning area aimed at schoolchildren and people wanting to undertake training. The intention is also to sell the produce. In all, close to 260 people will be involved in the participatory construction and co-management of these various income-generating activities.
Heko Permaculture has approached a back-to-work scheme, La Varappe, an existing Veolia Foundation partner, about green space maintenance (fruit-bearing hedgerows, shrubs, large trees), running the future urban nursery, the market gardening area and the energy-saving greenhouse. In the long term, these jobs will enable eight market gardening back-to-work scheme posts to be created.