At Hort Phoenicurus in Cardedeu, we try to create a space which is not only productive but also beautiful. We want it to be productive, because our vegetables feed the thirty or so families which belong to the cooperative “Cardedeu Autosuficient”, a very exciting local initiative which unites responsible consumption and production.

And we want it to be beautiful, as we are convinced that the principles which allow us to have a space of beauty are the same which allow us to have a healthy and fertile garden: different shapes, structures, habitats for wildlife, sunny and shady areas, a combination of plants with different aromas, colours and properties – the vegetables, trees, medicinal plants, flowers…

Our way of cultivating is based on what we have learnt about natural and synergistic agriculture, concepts developed by permaculture, and respecting the principles of agro-ecology. For this reason, we attempt to go beyond the simple substitution of chemical products for natural products.

Our objective is to create a sustainable, self-regulating system. We work with the idea that nature itself is able to achieve a balance; that plants and soil feed each other mutually, and key to achieving this is respect for the life in the soil. Likewise, maximising the biodiversity prevents the appearance of pests and diseases.

We therefore opt for the minimal possible intervention, in order to allow nature to work by herself, and to respect the natural cycles. If we stop cultivating the soil, and at the same time we add a permanent mulch, we immediately help to put into action the cycles of self-fertility.

Likewise, we save our own seed, grow our own seedlings, and convert all organic matter into rich earth. We firmly believe that these types of techniques can not only create productive and beautiful places, but also the amount of work they require continues to decrease. We are now “cultivating” 4000m² with just secateurs and trowels.

Apart from putting together vegetable boxes, we also run courses to explain our gardening techniques and other concepts of sustainable design and permaculture. This November, the garden celebrates its fourth birthday. We are based in Cardedeu, just forty minutes by train from Barcelona – feel free to come and visit whenever you like. Bon profit!

A video to introduce you the garden (in English and Catalan): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUkgUGFfKW4&feature=youtu.be

More info: http://phoenicurus.wordpress.com/

Contacts – Gisela & Mark: hort.phoenicurus@gmail.com