Urban associative gardens are, under various names, statutes and forms, expanding rapidly in many industrialised countries, particularly in France. From 2013 to 2016, the JASSUR research project (Urban Associative Gardens and Sustainable Cities) studied the functions, uses, modes of operation, benefits and potential dangers of these associative gardens in 7 French cities, including Marseille.

Contact details

Function / Organisation : Université de Lorraine - INRA / Laboratory of Soil and Environmental Sciences , JASSUR

E-mail : christophe.schwartz@univ-lorraine.fr

Website : http://www6.inra.fr/jassur
7 French cities: Marseille, Lille, Lyon, Nancy, Nantes, Paris and Toulouse
13284, Marseille, France


  • Laboratory of Soil and Environmental Sciences (UL – INRA), TELEMMe (AMU – CNRS), EcoLab (University of Toulouse III), EcoSys (INRA – AgroParisTech), LGCgE (Lille ISA), IRSTV (Research Institute on Science and Technology for the City), Rural Studies Laboratory (Isara Lyon), NORT (INRA), SAD-APT (INRA), Plante&Cité
  • Associations: PADES (Self-Production and Social Development Programme), National  Federation of Family and Collective Gardens


  • Studying practices, functions and risks associated with urban associative gardens with a transdisciplinary approach
  • Creating a database with environmental, socio-technical and socio-political parameters
    for 7 cities
  • Identifying the modes of action necessary to maintain, restore, develop or upgrade these associative gardens in urban areas faced with the challenges of sustainability

Legal framework & Budget

JASSUR is a research project involving 13 partners from research and associations. Its management was based on 3 levels: city level, task level and overall level. JASSUR was funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) with € 950,000 for a total cost of around €  1,300,000. The project is labelled by Advancity and Végépolys clusters.


JASSUR was based on a central question: what services provide urban collective gardens? To answer this question, the project evaluated soil fertility and gardens’ biodiversity, as well as environmental and health risks due to potential pollution. Gardening practices were also analysed to assess the contribution of gardens to families’ food supply and nutrition. In parallel, the governance of gardens and their place in urban planning was studied to come out with recommendations of renewed management practices and biological soil remediation processes. In total, 104 gardens were investigated, including 36 in Marseille. In the latter city, a sub-study on the impact of urban gardening on nutrition and food consumption in disadvantaged neighbourhoods was conducted (Opticourses).

>Innovation & Outcomes

JASSUR has produced several articles, book chapters and communications in national and international research publications. Results were also disseminated in 6 technical journals, 10 conferences, 2 workshops and recommendations to stakeholders and gardeners. The project has shown that, in view of their significant positive externalities, urban associative gardens need to be more integrated into urban policies. Its main innovation of was its transdisciplinary approach.

Investment amount
1 300 000

Main obstacles & Next steps

In Marseille, a new research project, POMELO, has been launched to build on JASSUR results. It aims to mobilise people at home by installing vegetable planter boxes on private balconies. It will take place in the Belsunce neighbourhood in 2018. JASSUR led to several other collaborative projects and experimentations.

Project video

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Project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund