Nathanaël, the Christian who fights to save the Gardens of the Bible in Aubenas

Les Jardins de Chanabier hanging from a solution?

Credit: Jean Delmarty

En creating “Les Jardins de Chanabier” in 2013 Nathanaël Bechdolff innovated both in the field of educational ecology and in biblical pedagogy. The original idea that sprouted spiritually in 2004 was to constitute a plantation of trees present in the biblical accounts.

This could begin to materialize with the rental and use after clearing of a hectare of land near the Ardèche river, in the department of the same name, near Aubenas. With the prospect of a space open to all, with educational workshops, a vegetable garden, an approach to biodiversity and methods in organic farming, permaculture, agro-ecology. And an annual and cultural event "a week in the Garden" which has already taken place in July 2014, and 2015.

All this has allowed the Jardins de Chanabier to be registered with the Tourist Office of the Pays d'Aubenas-Vals, which is the epicenter of Ardèche tourism, to be referenced in the SITRA national database of Tourist Offices, then as part of the “1000 landscapes in action” operation initiated by the Ministry of Ecology, and to receive support from the National Union of Rhône-Alpes Landscape Enterprises and that of the Monts d'Ardèche Natural Park .

Forty biblical plants in Ardèche

nathanel-2All the plants listed in the Bible (110) may be present. Forty are already. Some mark the link between the Holy Land and the Ardèche because they exist or have existed in this department. The project provides for the development of a path in a simple and fun approach, with signage, explanatory panels both botanically and biblically, guided tours and other activities, the possibility for visitors to buy plants in pot, in a place conducive to discovery, walking, conviviality and sharing.

A disaster that calls everything into question

But this project is compromised for financial reasons. Indeed, when Nathanaël Bechdolff was preparing the ground in Ardèche, an incident with serious consequences occurred for his landscaping company in August 2013. A technical problem on a solenoid valve reduced to nothing the viability of a green wall created. for a hotel establishment. A claim valued at € 12 excluding tax that he still cannot be taken into account by his insurer. As its cash flow could not absorb the shock, the company had to be placed in receivership a year later, and despite the acceptance of its reorganization plan, it was placed in compulsory liquidation on December 000. As the company carried the Jardins de Chanabier project (the implementation of which was the responsibility of the Myrte et Papyrus association created for this purpose in 8), it is threatened in its existence. It is no longer possible today to become the owner of the land, and even to pay the rent. From September 2014 to the end of 2013, Nathanaël estimates that this affair caused him to lose € 2015 in operating margin.

Support and hope

He requested and obtained many supports including those of the town hall of Aubenas (all the more in the framework of its project of accessibility of the banks with the Natural Park of the Monts d'Ardèche), the local deputy Sabine Buis who allowed that the file reaches the desk of Ségolène Royal at the Ministry of Ecology, the MEP Michèle Rivasi, the Reformed Church of Aubenas-Vals. A petition has been signed by nearly 400 people.

Nathanaël does not want to give up to find a solution to these difficulties which go beyond the Gardens project. Reasons therefore not to despair, even if he believes that it would be miraculous to get out of this situation.

But he knows that miracles exist ...

Olivier Beylon

To sign the petition.

Find out more about Nathanaël and the Jardins de Chanabier:

Les Jardins de Chanabier: Botanical garden of the plants of the Bible in Aubenas
Nathanaël Bechdolff: creator of a biblical garden

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