Sustainable Agriculture Pedagogical Garden

Starting in 2021 as a pilot project on the Albatross site in the Loire, this garden named “Jardin de Servan” aims to promote sustainable agriculture, respecting the environment, encouraging biodiversity and recycling waste.

Its objective is to sensitize and educate young people to ” grow and eat well” .
Pedagogical tools and methods are being studied to deliver innovative education.

The spirit of the Learning Garden Project

This project is part of the activities of the Albatross Foundation, which aims to educate young people about sustainable development.

This educational garden initiative, which began with volunteers, is intended to become a structured incubator for teaching ” how to grow and eat well “. The Jardin de Servan is therefore as much a space for education as it is an incubation process for projects related to sustainable development.

Such an incubator will have to follow a business model that ensures the sustainability and profitability of the project by integrating existing and future resources and activities on the site, so that they support the incubated projects, such as exploiting and making profitable the existing AlbaHome infrastructures for seasonal rentals, organizing seminars and events, etc… Also, a certain profitability can be ensured by the Albatross market place:

The origin of the Project and its evolution

Le Jardin de Servan was born from the combined energies of people from different backgrounds. Its origins lie in the desire to materialize the “Earth” pillar element of the Albatross Foundation.

The lines of thought are:

  1. To produce food locally, thanks to resources of the direct environment and consumed in hyper short circuit.
  2. Finding innovative sources of food
  3. Draw from local agriculture sustainable and environmentally friendly building materials
  4. Coordinate these efforts to preserve the planet, particularly with regard to climate issues.

The Launch of the Servan Garden

Thanks to the coordinated goodwill of friends of Albatross (advisor to the Chamber of Agriculture, Agronomist, restaurant owners, market gardeners, veterinarians, legal and economic advisors and other motivated volunteers) the project of a permaculture vegetable garden was first developed. The goal is to reconnect young people to Mother Earth in a respectful and sustainable way.

On the Albatross Foundation site, a plot of virgin land was invested and everyone rolled up their sleeves to start the adventure.

A small plot of 680 m2 with a small orchard and facing south has been invested. Guided by our market gardener, we have modestly set up growing areas using local resources (cardboard, grass clippings, horse manure, leaves, wood, hay, composting fed by the peelings/coffee grounds/egg shells of the partner restaurant, …).

Without a preliminary soil study, nor any particular knowledge of market gardening, we tried to create a virtuous circle by taming virgin soil, using the environment to bring in natural fertilizers, and starting a fork-to-fork movement through a valuable partnership with a local restaurant.

First bet 2021 successful! In April 2021, the first crop was harvested.

And that was just the beginning of the adventure. With the help of the Chamber of Agriculture and the Précieux agricultural school, we were able to find a project leader, Henri-Alexis Charlat, to perpetuate and expand the garden for the 2nd harvest. We also received support with training and test planting from the Centre de Ressources de Botanique Appliquée .

The support of EM Lyon students

Preparation of the land for the second cycle of market garden production began in 2022 with the involvement of students from EM Lyon/Noise. Since then, some thirty students from EM Lyon have been coming to help extend the cultivation areas and prepare all the vegetable seedlings.

At the same time, in 2022, the implementation of participatory permaculture and agro-forestry workshops with students began.

The support of the high school students of Forez

The Lycée du Forez in Feurs supports the educational garden, and volunteer high school students regularly take part in training courses in partnership with the Albatross Foundation and its volunteer professionals:

  • an agricultural engineer, Florent Tatin, who explained to them the importance of soil and what a “living soil” is. Florent also took the time to share his knowledge of forestry with our students, before helping them to plant fig, plum and peach trees.
  • Aurélien Adam of Ferme de l’Oasis, an ex-chemist who has converted to agro-ecological market gardening, introduced the youngsters to preparing the soil for winter, using local materials to amend the soil and protect it from the cold.

The youngsters had fun collecting dead leaves, hay, cardboard and dung from the horses raised on the site, and organizing the future planting bays.

The day was a great success for the youngsters, who were rewarded with hot chocolates and a snack.

After a day of winterizing the soil, there followed days of seedling preparation, seedling planting and vegetable harvesting and tasting.

Other training workshops

Since its inception, Jardin de Servan has offered a variety of other workshops for young people:

-mychology workshop with mushroom study

-Tree pruning workshop with identification and labeling

-workshop on planting trees resistant to climate change

-apple tree grafting workshop with youngsters bringing their own grafts

-beekeeping workshop with live hives

New workshops to come:

-biodynamic vineyard workshop

-Edible flowers and insect repellent flowers workshop

Future projects

Innovative power sources

A project is under study concerning the cultivation of spirulina as a food of tomorrow thanks to its particularly high protein content.

The building materials of tomorrow

In the current situation of shortage of materials, rising prices and lack of local production, our consulting architect gave us the idea of a project of planting giant bamboos to satisfy a sustainable, renewable and ecological architecture.

What about the climate?

In order to better study the effects of climate stress on living organisms, we were selected to take part in a study conducted by the CNRS on a BLOB. Françoise Corbesier, veterinary surgeon.

The main participants in the project

  • A volunteer team of over 15 people (including a market gardener, an educational farm, a veterinarian specializing in bees, a builder of farm buildings, an FAO expert, an agricultural engineer, an owner of an equestrian center and leisure center for young people, and restaurateurs).
  • La Ferme de l’Oasis in Saint Marcel de Félines
  • La Ferme des Délices in Civens
  • Students from EM Lyon/Noise and students from the Lycée du Forez in Feurs help prepare the soil and cultivate, while learning about ecological agriculture.
  • Senior volunteers maintain and water the garden.
  • The Domaine du Buis, Albatross Foundation site, and its owners (Bouillet-Deville family).
  • Servan’s Garden was named after Servan Marze, who passed away on April 11, 2017 at the age of 20. Servan, who lived next door to Domaine du Buis, was an integral ecologist.