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FarmED Books: Miraculous Abundance, by Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer

Reviewed by our Events Coordinator, Sophie Wilkinson.

A book that is truly encouraging about the future of our planet - I think I read it right at the right time!

Miraculous Abundance is a compelling story of husband and wife team, Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer who transform a tiny patch of land in Normandy - Le Farme du Bec Hellouin - into a highly productive, edible landscape which sits at the centre of an experiment into how to grow the most food possible, in the most ecological way possible. It is an account of their journey, of the many trials and tribulations along the way, drawing on inspirational examples from around the world to showcase how agriculture can restore the biosphere. Focusing on combining elements of permaculture, organic farming, and other micro methods, Bec Hellouin provides an abundance of food, whilst at the same time sequestering carbon, boosting soil health, increasing biodiversity and providing local employment.

The book is a call to action for Western society to change its ways when it comes to producing, and consuming food. ‘Before we think about how to change agriculture, isn't it necessary to consider another way to eat? Shouldn't we gradually revert to the food that sustained us during our long evolution, a diet to which our bodies are adapted.’ Charles is referring to fruits, nuts, vegetables, leaves & legumes.

But above all the clear message throughout the book is the importance of growing and eating local food. He points out that less than 200 years ago, the entire population of New York sourced all it's food from a radius of 10 kilometers from the city. Likewise, throughout the second half of the 19th Century, Paris was self-sufficient, with all of its vegetables produced inside the city boundary, grown in eighteen hundred market gardens (averaging 1.9 acres in size) and employing nine thousand of the city's population. It is hard to imagine that today, when I can get in the car and in less than 5 minutes buy bananas from Colombia, oranges from Spain and grapes from South Africa...

Written long before Covid entered the scene, in one part of the story Charles asks ‘must we wait for major crises to finally decide to change our lifestyles’? Perhaps we have waited long enough and now finally realise that we must work with, not against, nature to rethink our way of inhabiting the Earth. Perhaps...!

Miraculous Abundance is an inspiring overview of what's possible to achieve with a little bit of land and a lot of determination - as Charles puts it: ‘The Future is Local.’!

It’s published by Chelsea Green Publishing, our partners for the FarmED Literature Festival this summer.


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