An Ingenuous Mini-Farm Permaculture at La Source Dorée, France

An Ingenious Mini-Farm from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.

An Ingenious Mini-Farm

La Source Dorée is an ingenious mini-farm. The key to understanding it is coupling these two adjectives: ingenious and mini-farm. It is ingenious because it is complex and multi-layered. It includes cultivating under permaculture principles and functions as educational, commercial, food services, and accommodation facilities. It is ingenious because it can do more with less and because it assumes responsibility for global sustainability. In other words, it is a tangible model for the future.

Aerial view of La Source Dorée

In the early 2000s, Nathalie and Philippe Gaillet-Boidin, then deeply immersed in the world of large international enterprises, embarked on a transformative journey in 2009. They purchased 7 hectares (about 17 acres) of land 30 km (about 18 miles) west of Lyon, and transformed it into a farm dedicated to biodiversity preservation. Their inspiration came from the renowned Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, and biologist Bill Mollison (1928-2016). 

Our journey to La Source Dorée was a serendipitous one. We stumbled upon it online while still in L.A., shortly before embarking on a zigzagging 1,500 km between Bordeaux and Lyon. Our lifelong friend Bernard Légé had meticulously planned the trip “through the heart of France” together with his wife, Catherine. It included long walks through historic sites and nature, diving in a river 100 meters below the ground, works of contemporary architecture designed by noted architects, and museum visits. When we discovered La Source Dorée as a farm based on permaculture, we were immediately intrigued and decided to add it to our itinerary.

Thirty-mile distance to from Lyon to La Source Dorée

It was early Fall, and rain was to be expected. When we arrived, it was drizzling. Greeted by Nathalie Gaillet-Boidin, the farm’s co-founder, she guided us throughout the whole place, expressing herself with both knowledge and passion. Her references to physicist and philosopher Aurélien Barrau and Arthur Keller, a specialist in systemic thinking, added a dimension to our consciousness of the Earth’s present and future problems. In mentioning Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si, “Praised Be,” the most comprehensive Vatican document on environmentalism, she told us about her permaculture-related involvement with the monastery Sainte Marie de la Tourette, designed by architect Le Corbusier.

Nathalie Gaillet-Boidin with Bernard Légé and Ruth Meghiddo

Another example of Nathalie Gaillet-Boidin’s understanding of basics was her question, “What is the origin of chickens? What is its natural biotope?” Understanding that the chicken is a descendant of the Southeast Asian red jungle fowl from the Indonesial islands, she tried to recreate a natural environment by planting trees around the hen.

The farm, with eight vegetable zones, each different from the other, with small and large fruit trees, with an animal meadow, and with an area for aromatic and medical plants, is not just a self-contained ecosystem. It exemplifies the innovative and sustainable farming practices at La Source Dorée.

At the eight vegetable zones

This ingenious mini-farm can be seen as a beacon of hope for urban farming, as Ruth envisioned it in a different context. Sustainable agriculture can thrive amid living neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas, and college campuses. The farm’s innovative approach has left this potential for community development. 

Urban Farm

An Ingenious Mini-Farm – TRAILER from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.