I’m doing a prerecorded online presentation to the V Congresso Nacional de Alimentos e Nutrição, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, at 8:00 p.m. on my book Unsavory Truth (Um Verdade Indigesta). Information about the conference is here. It runs from October 4 to 8.
Weekend reading: Miraculous Abundance [Permaculture]
Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer. Miraculous Abundance: One quarter acre, two French farmers, and enough food to feed the world. Foreword by Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green, 2016.
This book, more about philosophy than a how-to, describes how two inexperienced beginners succeeded in creating a gorgeous, productive, self-sustaining farm on 1000 square meters of land in Normandy—La Ferme du Bec Hellouin.
They did this by using the techniques of permaculture. This they define as “a box of smart tools that allows the creation of a lifestyle that respects the earth and its inhabitants—a practical method inspired by nature.” Later, they explain that it is based on an ethic: “Take care of the earth. Take care of the people. Equitably share resources.” As I said, philosophy, not how-to.
You have to read the book to figure out what all this means in practice. It seems to come down to what I thought of as French Intensive methods. These use raised beds, rich soil, composting, and thoughtful planting of coordinated crops that support each other’s growth and nutritional needs. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya—nine seeds—approach works the same way. The authors drew on the work of John Jeavons, Eliot Coleman, and many other small-scale sustainable farmers from all over the world to develop their version of these methods.
If the color photographs are any indication, the results are magnificent. The place is so highly productive that it easily supports the two of them. The mandala garden alone made we want to get on the next plane just to see how it works in controlling weeds.
The moral: you could do this at home.