Permaculture Garden in Collioure
By Ellen Turner Hall
It’s a word you’ve read or heard, but what is permaculture, exactly? I asked Maryline Buckingham who started the team project with Carol Daillé and Petra Munckhof to create a flourishing garden from an abandoned lot back in April 2017.
“Basically it’s a way of life, not just gardening, but the way you behave. More precisely, this means looking after the soil and the planet, looking after humans and sharing the labour and the fruits.”
Looking after the soil means no use of chemicals. Instead, time and effort go into covering the soil with straw, mulch, pine cones or anything that reduces evaporation and keeps the soil dark and damp where bacteria and insects can thrive and enrich the earth with natural nutrients.
Above ground, paths wind between beds planted with a variety of plants. In August, teepees of tomatoes, trailing vines of squash, a green carpet of perpetual spinach are harvested and shared among the volunteers.
It required over two years of clearing weeds, brambles, acanthus and mimosas to construct the garden and build the paths. Nothing was wasted. The stones dug up were saved and then re-used as edging to define the beds.
All this was accomplished with the help of volunteers who work at the garden on Mondays and Thursdays from 9am to 12pm during the summer and longer during the rest of the year.
The land belongs to the Collioure town hall, for whose support “we are very grateful,” Maryline emphasises. The association – Jardin Denat– now has over 70 members. There are 12 active members who work at the garden, usually 6 on Monday and 6 on Thursday. They share everything; work, produce and friendship. Visitors often comment on the sense of harmony and peace they find there.
In September, Pignon-sur-Mer, a festival dedicated to the environment, will take place in Collioure on the 10th, 11th and 12th. Jardin Denat is participating with a guided tour of the garden on Saturday at 11am and a workshop/mini-conference on permaculture techniques at 2.30pm on Sunday. Both events can be booked from the end of August on the Pignon-sur-Mer website. (See Collioure website for the full programme.)
Jardin Denat is a project in constant transformation and growth. Check out the photographs of their yearly progress on their website (in English, French and Catalan). While you’re at it, for 10€ (15€ for a couple) a year, why not become a member?
As Maryline describes the garden’s dynamic : “It’s a living garden where humans are welcome.”