The association “Les Courens: Partager le patrimoine” (“The Courens: Sharing the heritage”), which was set up in 2017 as part of the Social and Solidarity Economy, has been running a cultural and tourist development project in the commune of Beaumes-de-Venise for the past three years. It is actively involved in promoting the local heritage on the Courens plateau, the southern foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail massif. One of the sites on which the association is working is LE VERGER CONSERVATOIRE. A programme of action has been in place since 2017 to develop a conservation and remembrance area, as well as an eco-responsible and experiential tourism offer. The orchard was created on abandoned terraces planted with centuries-old olive trees. After a first year devoted to rehabilitating the terraces (clearing undergrowth, rebuilding the dry stone walls), the question of water resources arose. The project presented here involves introducing the public to sustainable water pumping systems in the Mediterranean area. The aim is to experiment with pumping water from the Aubune spring in a way that is energy-efficient and has a smaller environmental footprint.

Presentation of the project

The association “Les Courens : Partager le patrimoine” is based in the commune of Beaumes-de-Venise, in the Vaucluse. One of the sites on which the association works is LE VERGER CONSERVATOIRE. Since 2017, a programme of action has been in place to develop a conservation and remembrance area, as well as an eco-responsible and experiential tourism offer. Following the restoration of the terraces, including the rebuilding of dry-stone walls and planting, the question of water arose. The terraces have no irrigation system, and the Aubune spring located 150 m below the conservatory orchard is the only water resource available. Against this backdrop, the association has developed a new initiative that meets 2 objectives: – Develop sustainable and experiential tourism in the area, – Cover the water needs of the conservatory orchard The work carried out : – Set up water pumping and circulation systems, – Introduce the public to sustainable water pumping systems with a view to spreading them throughout the region, – Enhance the value of the site by offering new training courses and themed tours. There are 2 main aspects to this project: – transporting and storing water to irrigate the conservatory orchard, – passing on know-how about the local heritage linked to water resources to the general public. For this project, the LEADER has provided funding for a post to lead these discovery and transmission initiatives. It has also funded the creation and implementation of 3 water transport scenarios: – Mobile pump powered by photovoltaic energy, – Hydraulic ram system, – Animal traction on the backs of Provence donkeys.

The emblematic character of the project

In order to understand the emblematic nature of this project, it is necessary to start from the construction of the association. Mobilized since 2017 on the rehabilitation of terraces, it perfectly illustrates the notion of partnership. Their steering group is now composed of public institutions such as the Mont-Ventoux NRP, the Communauté d’Agglomération Cove, but also of the establishment of local formations, associations, businesses and cooperatives. Their current governance flows from this: sharing and collaborative. The issue of heritage preservation and presentation is a priority in our rural areas, knowledge is being lost and landscapes are being affected. Through their project for a conservatory orchard, Les Courens kept reflecting on the place of man in this landscape, which He shaped to produce, then abandoned because it was too difficult to exploit. The project highlighted in this candidature addresses a universal theme: water and water management. Reinforced by the successive years of drought, the approach and the reflections they carried out during this project enabled them to come up with a project for cooperation with an Italian LAG on the ecosystem role of the restoration of fallow terraces. This project addresses both the following issues: – environmental: landscape management, fire prevention, water management, – societal: rediscovery of the use of terraces: dry stone know-how, agriculture: creation of fairly paid employment. Water, terraces and eco-tourism is therefore a project that aims to be spawned on other territories, through the techniques implemented for the irrigation of terraces but also through the governance and public-private partnerships created by the association.


Association « Les Courens »

GAL Ventoux

Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (Région SUD)