Looking Back on Farmer’s Tales: Ferme du Bec Hellouin

On the evening of November 25th, students, farmers, and various other professionals were joined by peasant farmer and co-founder of Ferme Biologique du Bec Hellouin, Perrine Hervé-Gruyer, to dicuss the future of small-scale and climate-proof agriculture. A recording of the conversation can be found below, alongside a summary of the event.

In 2006, Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer transitioned from maintaining a self-sufficient family garden to creating an organic farm, Ferme du Bec Hellouin. Along the way they discovered the benefits of permaculture and attracted the attention of researchers from AgroParisTech, who compared the farm to the bountiful market gardens of 19th-century Paris.

Perrine revealed tips and insights such as “trees are the spine of the system,” never overlook the value of horse manure in agriculture, and use a precision seeder to maintain both biodiversity and crop production when working by hand.

The vision of Ferme du Bec Hellouin’s founders is shifting gears into scientific research. Questions that Perrine and Charles will continue to explore include: What does it take to feed a village? And how can farms at the community level create resilience? 

It is their vision for future generations to create a mosaic of fossil-free microfarms designed under the principles of permaculture outside of urban areas. This will encourage cities to return to self-sufficiency in procuring their own produce from the countryside. A shift away from decentralized consumption and large-scale agriculture will make local systems more resilient – a feat which is proving to be increasingly relevant during this time of crisis.

Stay tuned for upcoming conversations with peasant farmers of Europe in the virtual Farmer’s Tales series, and support your local farmers!