The shared garden, Ouort de Benevènt (Ouort means garden in Provencal patois), was created in spring 2017 by the organization “Bien Chez Soi” (meaning ‘a feeling of well-being at home’). This organization runs a care and home help service for the elderly and disabled (assisting with housework, meal preparation, administrative tasks, small DIY jobs, gardening, etc.).
The caregivers pick up their charges at home, take them to the garden and carry out many manual and cultural activities with them in a friendly atmosphere. Many volunteers also come along to make various adjustments and help out with the activities under the guidance of a specialized supervisor.
The garden is also a public place where townspeople, children from the local nursery and school, the residents of neighboring EHPADs (retirement homes for the elderly and dependent), and users of ADMRs (associations offering home help in rural areas) all come together. Various events and activities are held in the garden (picnics, exhibitions, etc.). Located in Champsaur (Hautes-Alpes), it helps to create links between generations.
Each year, a creative exhibition theme is launched in the garden, which lasts for a season. In 2017, the theme was scarecrows. In 2018, it was wind and sound. The garden is a great way to bring people from different backgrounds together and build curiosity, thus adding to the garden’s appeal.
A photographer keeps track of life in the garden. In summer 2018, he put on an exhibition entitled “un autre regard sur le grand âge” (‘another way of looking at old age’). The purpose of this exhibition was to promote the work of home help organizations for our elders and to offer a different perspective on old age by showing the importance and utility of activities such as gardening.
Through these photographs and the texts that accompany them, a story is told: That of the possibility of a place – the Ouort de Benevènt – where the art of growing old in a participative, useful and joyful way can grow!
Photos from these exhibitions will be used to create a photo book in partnership with seniors. This book aims to pass on agricultural techniques, communicate about the garden and highlight the participation of the “Bien Chez Soi” seniors.
The Ouort is open to the public and is ideal for people who want to just take a look, go for a walk, picnic, or even take a nap.
This project was supported by the Louis Bonduelle Foundation during its summer 2017 call for proposals.