In order to preserve the biodiversity that surrounds us in the natural world, it is vital that we understand it. Indeed, this understanding represents a crucial issue for future generations. With this in mind, the Fondation d'entreprise Hermès has devised a programme in partnership with the Besançon board of education, the Saline Royale d'Arc-et-Senans, and the Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France, to raise awareness of the living world. Overseen by professionals (gardeners, market gardeners and horticulturists) who are assisted by mediators and school teachers, over the course of twelve sessions that take place during school hours, pupils are guided through the creation and cultivation of a plot of land within their school grounds or in a nearby green space using permaculture techniques.
For start of the 2023 school year, the programme continues to expand across France thanks to a partnership that now encompasses some ten boards of education (Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Créteil, Lyon, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Normandie, Paris and Versailles). The programme is thus being rolled out in 25 classes to reach around 625 pupils. Participating young people from primary school to high school ages are invited to literally get in touch with the earth, to connect with nature and to (re)discover the biodiversity from which they are sometimes at a far remove in their daily lives. Each session provides an opportunity to engage with a different environmental issue (water management, seasonality, pollination, etc.) in a cross-curricular approach that can enhance and build upon classroom learning.
As they familiarise themselves with sustainable practices and ecosystems, tomorrow’s citizens are invited to take care of the common good that is the nature that surrounds us. At the end of the school year, which concludes with a session where pupils can observe the flowering of plants and even harvest fruits and vegetables planted months earlier, the participants hand over their plot of land to a new group who will continue to cultivate it over the following school year.