Sunday, May 23, 2010

Farmers Transform Champs Elysees

From the BBC:

One of Paris's main thoroughfares, the Champs-Elysees, has been covered in earth and turned into a huge green space in an event staged by young French farmers.

(Al Jazeera video)

They want to highlight their financial problems, caused by falling prices for agricultural produce.

Plants, trees and flowers were brought in by lorry overnight to transform the avenue into a long green strip.

More than a million people are expected to visit over the next two days.

The event, which cost 4.2m euros (£3.6m; $5.3m) to stage, has been organised by the French Young Farmers (Jeunes Agriculteurs) union over the holiday weekend in France.

It will serve as a showcase of farm production from sheep breeding to crop growing.

The union, which represents some 55,000 farmers under the age of 35, wants to impress on the public - and the government - the efforts required to produce what goes on the table.

"It's about re-establishing contact with the public about what our profession is and what they want from it," William Villeneuve, president of the Jeunes Agriculteurs, said on Friday.

"Do they want the cheapest products in the world or do they want products that pay producers?" he added.


Only in France are you ever likely to see such a monumental mobilisation of creativity and resources, all in the cause of that beloved but beleaguered figure: the French farmer, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Overnight, 8,000 plots of earth have been brought into central Paris, and on Sunday morning, from the Arc de Triomphe down, the Champs-Elysees is one vast green space.

Some 150,000 plants have been installed - including 650 fully grown trees - representing agricultural produce from the marshes of the Camargue to the plains of Picardy, our correspondent adds.

Video at:


Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin said...

Ah, que j'adore les francais! -- just finished reading a great overview of French history 1900 to the present - and learned that France did not suffer during the oil shortage in the 70s as much as other countries did, because their agriculture was not so dependent on petrochemical inputs. The national leadership realized what a boon this was and supported ag even more ... calling the ag sector "green oil." Today when you drive across the fields of sunflowers and wheat west of Paris, there are windpower installations all along the ridges on the horizon, another way for the farmers to contribute and earn ... and help keep France out of the clutches of Big Oil. Vive la France ... wish we could sanely focus on good food and good energy here.

GULAHIYI said...

A novelist (Colton?) speaking at City Lights a couple of years ago mentioned that she was living in Paris on 9/11 and her neighbors were VERY kind and solicitous toward her because she was American. Meanwhile, here in America some genius in DC changed the name of French fries to "Freedom fries." There's so much to learn from other cultures, but our media sources still haven't figured that out.

My brother was in France a few years ago and remarked on the condition of the roads, "the best maintained roads" he had seen anywhere. Here, we never stop building new ones even though we can't keep up the roads already built. The contrast says a lot.