Why did two horses plow in the center of Roubaix?

Noré and Etoile have plowed part of the land for the former Nollet factory in Roubaix, right in the city center!
Noré and Etoile have plowed part of the land for the former Nollet factory in Roubaix, right in the city center! (© ASH / Northern Cross)

Two horses plow a field, which is rare these days. And besides, in the city center of Roubaix, it’s absolutely wild! This is what we saw the last week of April 2022 due to the former Nollet factory, the Trichon district, opposite the La Baraka restaurant. Noré and Etoile horsesguided by Marie Peltier, from Bourbourg, participated in the preparation of future apartment building in Trichon. We explain everything to you with Pierre Wolf, urban farmers from Trichon.

“They are good children …”

Pulling horses pulling an iron machine plowing the ground, controlled by reins held by a person on foot: we are not in the 19th century, nor in the countryside. This happened in Roubaix in the city center this week. But what’s going on in the Trichon district?

With the reins Marie Peltier, who had come especially from Bourbourg with her hard-working “colleagues”, Noré and Etoile. “Together, the line”; “They are good children”; “No harassment”; “Oh oh” … The horses are docile, they just take the liberty to graze some tall grass.

You have to stop from time to time because the square still contains obstacles, such as iron bars or very large stones. It is even necessary to repair the extirpator, the name of the machine attached to the horses.

Pulling horses plowed on Nollet's industrial wasteland in Roubaix.
Pulling horses plowed on Nollet’s industrial wasteland in Roubaix. (© ASH / Northern Cross)

The young woman knows all about plowing with horses, that’s her job! And yes, it does exist. “In Flanders, farmers call me to come to their fields. In the city it is rare. in the region there is Grande-Synthe, who also called me … ”she explains.

She came, with Noré and Etoile, to plow for 4 days. Residents were invited to discover the event, as well as 11 classes from neighboring schools, not to forget the kids in the Nautilus social center.

It might seem anecdotal, but it was not a demonstration of ancient craftsmanship. This plowing on horseback invites us to look to the future.

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The goal is to create a real apartment building on this 6300 m2 plot!

What is this site?

The Nollet-Crouy plant, which specializes in electrical equipment, was demolished in 2009 as part of the ANRU (Urban Rehabilitation Plan). Residential construction was planned, but in the end the site remained a wasteland. Roma have camped there. The country is partially polluted, mainly due to cable and car fires caused by the presence of the Roma.
Today, the place owned by MEL wants to become a school of urban agriculture, with the urban farmers of Trichon attached to the Baraka restaurant next to the place.

Pierre Wolf, from urban farmers in Trichon, explains: “For the most part we used modern machines because it is too difficult for the horses to lift the soil from an industrial wasteland that has never been cultivated 50 cm deep. But we will only use ‘ oil ‘when necessary ”.

Raise awareness among residents, analyze with academics

Picking up horses was a way to “educate the residents so that they take ownership of this project. Horses create joy and their needs are very good manure! explains Pierre Wolf.

This is not the only action on the ground because part of the earth is polluted: “We have a partnership with 3 universities: Junia, Lille and Côte d’Opale. Together with MEL, the owner of the land, we are writing a project on handling contaminated soil in the city center ”.

There are two types of soil in the field: a contaminated soil whose nutrients need to be reconstituted and a soil whose contaminant is voluntarily stored to analyze how it develops.

The apartment building in operation in 3 years

This project was a dream a few years ago. But the dream comes true! The first plantations will be made this year, on one of the plots, for a test. The goal is for the farm to be in full operation in 3 years.

It will work with members who pay a monthly subscription. They become part of the project and not just the consumers, because they have to pick and harvest the fruits and vegetables themselves.

“We are thinking of a contribution of around € 1.50 per day or € 45 per month. It is necessary that at least 170 people subscribe, so it is profitable to pay one or even 2 people on the spot. For people with low income, we hope that a form of ‘voucher’ will be distributed by CCAS, for example to help precarious families participate in the project … “

Remember that there is already the common garden Trichon on the site, on the plot directly opposite the restaurant cooperative Baraka.

The abandoned LEA Lille3 university building could accommodate a third place on the ground floor dedicated to food.
The abandoned LEA Lille3 university building could accommodate a third place on the ground floor dedicated to food. (© ASH / Northern Cross)

And the LEA building?

The square is located right next to a huge abandoned building, the former Lille3 university building dedicated to foreign languages ​​used.

Part of the site was to be affected by the apartment building project. “The building belongs to Partenord. We are in contact with them to plan to create a third place on the ground floor around food. The El Cagette cooperative would be interested in establishing itself there, in particular … ”notes Pierre Wolf.

It will take a few more years to see this project emerge, but we can not wait!

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