For gardeners who let animals do the donkey work

Animals can clear maquis scrub and tough brush from overgrown gardens or pasture

Residents in the south of France can rent donkeys to clear gardens of tough, hard-to-clear scrub that is a simple job for the animals.

The Anestrel association, which aims to protect the environment by suggesting eco-friendly solutions, is offering donkey services to those who need help taming overgrown gardens or pasture.

Customers pay €390 a month to rent a couple of donkeys that set about clearing the area of maquis scrub and tough brush. All the work of looking after the donkeys is taken care of by the association and included in the price. It supplies their food, looks after them and covers any veterinary work needed.

The service is available to those living in both individual homes and copropriété (shared) buildings and the donkeys can clear land ranging from 800 to 2,000m2. All they need is a water source.

Anestrel delivers the animal in and around Nice up to a 50km radius and the project has been growing every year since it started in 2008.

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One association member told Connexion customers were always satisfied with their work – almost always asking for the donkeys’ services again. Animals can be reserved any time of the year, but reservations are already full for May and June.

Clearing the gardens – or ‘debroussaillage’ in French – is an obligatory requirement in certain departments, including Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, to cut fire risk especially in areas near forests. It reduces the often tinder-dry scrub that could allow a wildfire to spread and cause injuries and damage.

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