Have you heard of barefooting? I hadn’t until I visited and interviewed the director of a horticultural training centre for disabled people, “Les Jardins de Broceliande” in Breal sous Monfort in Brittany, France.
Amongst the many activities for the general public found in the centre is the Barefoot trail. The director got the idea from the Barfussparks found mostly in Germany and Austria, the oldest and most famous of it can be found in Bad Sobernheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. The purpose of these barefoot parks is to provide the public with an opportunity to walk barefoot for distances on various surfaces with friends and family.
“Les Jardins de Broceliande’s” trail is a one kilometre long walk starting at a safe locker room where you leave your shoes and belongings. From there you start your walk on different mulch surfaces from soft and coarse, before going on road base, gravel, stone surfaces (where all 45 different surfaces are used). You then find your feet squishing in mud before going through a stream then to grass and stepping stones before going through trees in an enclosed net and completing your walk by returning back to the locker through the garden path.
This particular walk is designed to be used by families on a day out. It is suitable for all age groups with bypasses designed for the elderly members.
Design for the Barefuss walks need to take into consideration the age and fitness of the potential users. In Australia, where the weather is much more conducive to barefooting and for longer periods of time, these parks can be adapted to suit a variety of people. Schools, city parks, retirement home users would greatly benefit from safe well designed barefoot walks. The length and surfaces to be chosen need to suit the particular demographic which is likely to use the trail.
About Patrick Regnault
I have worked in the horticultural and landscaping industry for over 35 years in three different countries.I am a member and Registered Horticulturist with the Australian Institute of Horticulture and member of the Housing Industry Association. I am the owner of Interactive Landscapes, a successful structural landscaping and landscape design business. I believe that what gardens and gardening do is to reconnect people with the fundamental elements of nature. A good gardener will try and acquire a profound understanding of the balance of nature and endeavour to do the best to improve the environment in which the garden is situated. At Interactive Landscapes it is a philosophy that we put into practice when designing and creating a garden, no matter the size. Our name reflects this as we understand that gardens are a place of interaction. View all posts by this author »