Permaculture: teaching us to trust nature
The prerequisites for eco-responsible gastronomy are natural, seasonal products cultivated locally. Permaculture meets all these criteria, and then goes one better by enabling large quantities to be produced on a very small scale.
Let’s back up, and start at the beginning. Permaculture – the contraction of ‘permanent agriculture’ – was created in Australia in the 1970s by biologist Bill Molisson and environmental designer David Holmgren. Their idea was simple: let ecosystems generate favourable food growing conditions by themselves, rather than trying to create man-made, artificial conditions.
Permaculture plays to nature’s strengths, "designing harmonious, sustainable, resilient market gardens enabling each element to be positioned in such a way that it can interact positively with the others" (source). Neighbouring plants provide each other with mutual benefits: one is shaded by the leaves of another plant which transforms the waste products of yet another. As a result, there is no waste, no energy loss, just a continual pursuit for efficiency and comfort.
Today, there are a growing number of permaculture initiatives in France and around the world (Université populaire de permaculture, more and more training opportunities, etc.). First, because permaculture offers a realistic alternative to industrial agriculture which threatens biodiversity and soil fertility. Imagine, a 1000m2 organic permaculture market garden creates one full-time job (source INRA)! Finally, because permaculture is an inherently ethical philosophy based on three pillars: taking care of the earth, taking care of people and sharing equitably.
It doesn’t get much better than that!