News: Les Jardins d’ici is now bilingual

French versions of Les Jardins d’ici’s articles should boost the French-speaking branch of its audience as the blog continues to grow from its London roots. Here are the main steps that led to this new format.

 

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I am writing this article in English, my second language. The French version will follow. It feels natural to proceed this way: English is the primary language I use to communicate with the rest of the world, and my years in the UK continue to deeply influence the way I act and write about local fruit production and consumption.

I created Les Jardins d’ici in South-West London in September 2013, while I was volunteering for Abundance Wimbledon1, a local surplus fruit sharing initiative. The blog, French titled and written in English, was born.

The jam I made for Abundance Wimbledon Fruit Day 2013 with pears donated by a local garden owner. Product information and recipe on lesjardinsdici.com.

Les Jardins d’ici , “Gardens Here” as a member of Abundance and former Mayor of Wimbledon said, quickly expanded:

‘Surely our countries could work together towards a more sustainable production and consumption of healthy local fruit’. This label is part of a product prototype I designed in 2012.

‘My main point today is that some places are just waiting for us to take care of them’. Photo: domestic garden, France.

Two years later, I started to explore the rest of Europe:

A private garden in a recent property development near Gruyères, Switzerland. ‘Are the Swiss ahead of Western European countries like France and the UK regarding home production of healthy food to complement their diet?’

Two thousand fruit trees grow in the Seminary garden on Petřín Hill next to the historic centre of Prague, Czech Republic. ‘In 1927, the garden was purchased by the Prague community… and it was open to the public on 1st May 1930’.

I re-established French residency in 2015. More of my fruit-related activities took place in France as a result. It would have made sense to write about these activities in French, especially when many people were involved locally. I continued to publish my stories in English though, and only wrote French versions upon request.

‘We ran a compote workshop on Sunday to promote the utilisation of small apples and windfalls.’ One of the A1 posters I created for this event run in France. It was the first time I included French words in a Les Jardins d’ici article.

French heritage apple varieties on display at Europom 2017 in the Czech Republic. I wrote a French version of this article, published on Les Croqueurs de pommes website. ‘The idea of Europom® started in the eighties… In many regions of Europe NGO’s were starting to map, study and conserve local and historical fruit varieties in order to preserve them for future generations’.

My French version of ‘Europom 2017’ was more than a translation of the English article. I added specific content aimed at my fellow members of the Association des Croqueurs de pommes2a particular audience of informed readers, many of whom knew a lot about heritage fruit varieties and regularly contributed to the organisation of similar events.

More importantly, by publishing this French version in the Croqueurs de pommes’ quarterly bulletin and website, I addressed a frustration: ‘It’s a shame there is no translation. Many members of the association don’t understand English’, one of them commented in French in Les Jardins d’ici after seeing the initial English version.

The lack of French also limited my impact in France. I use Les Jardins d’ici to develop my professional and personal network in this country and make people aware of my activities. Links to French versions of my articles in my emails should make my prospection more effective.

‘I found your article of great interest, even if my analysis slightly differs from yours…’ (translated from French). This reply from the Curator of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris shows that documented research articles like this one on the history of fruit cultivation in the Luxembourg borough can have an impact. Not all of my contacts read English though.

Finally, I would like my activities to have a more concrete impact. How can we increase the production and consumption of local fruit? How do we generate momentum? Which ventures can be joined or created in France, the UK and beyond? I hope that adding French to the range of languages I use to discuss these issues will help find solutions.

‘… the Brighton Permaculture Trust was well on its way to meeting its long-term targets at the Fruit Factory, with ‘15,252 kg fruit collected and used so far this season’’. I volunteer for the Trust when I am in the UK.

Audience data has also shown the way. My readership has mainly been British so far, even if readers from more than seventy countries have looked at Les Jardins d’ici since its inception. France is catching up and it is more than time that I provide my fellow citizens and other French-speaking readers with the opportunity to read my articles in their preferred language.

I have added a French version of my posts to Les Jardins d’ici since April 2020. The French and the English versions are to be published on the same day, which provides all audiences with the same ability to choose their preferred version. Readers can also see in which language I wrote first, to what extent the two versions differ and what unites them. The differences have been incremental on the topics covered so far, however they might be more substantial in other occasions, as it has been the case for the Europom 2017 article. I quite like the idea of presenting different perspectives on the same topic in the same editorial space.

Welcome to Les Jardins d’ici‘s extended format. I hope you enjoy it!

  1. http://www.abundancewimbledon.com (accessed 6 October 2020)
  2. https://croqueurs-national.fr/en/ (accessed 6 October 2020)

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