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France: This herd of city sheep is bringing a bit of gentle nature to concrete urban spaces

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Sheep on the pastures of Europa Corp in La Courneuve. Photo: AFP

Instead of thinking of the cities clashing with the countryside, it’s better to imagine them together!

The Star
Apr 18, 2021


Guillaume and Marie Lou are urban shepherds in the Paris region; they practise an urban transhumance with 60 sheep in the heart of La Courneuve.

A little bit of the countryside is coming back to the suburbs, delighting onlookers young and old and influencing political decision makers as to the future of Paris’ northern suburbs.

We’ll fill you in on this collective in our feature “Protecting the planet one step at a time” in partnership with the NGO Energy Observer Solutions.
The ‘Bergers Urbains’ collective practises eco-grazing in the Paris region, offering a new slant to life in the city by setting up dynamic, generous and lush urban agriculture.

Urban growth at nature’s expense

By 2050, 2.5 billion individuals will live in cities, which equates to two thirds of the global population. The urbanisation process is generally accompanied by the destruction of natural environments for the benefit of ‘concrete-isation’. In this way, in the space of 30 years, France has lost the equivalent of two departments of farmland.

Bringing nature back to the city

On the initiative of Bergers Urbains, Guillaume Leterrier and Marie Lou Dubreuilh are confident that their project has a future. The two have a flock of 60 sheep. Their aim: to make urban soil productive and enhance its biodiversity. Their sheep barn, based in La Courneuve in Seine-Saint-Denis, produces meat and wool and operates on a short supply chain basis. At the same time, they are developing participatory vegetable plots through the reuse of organic waste.

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