Designing an edible food forest in southern France

Association Anatoth in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France, partnered with WUR students to design a 600m2 edible forest garden. Students performed thorough research and delivered a list of indigenous plant species, an implementation and management plan for the forest, and a map of the area.

It is a privilege to have a group of Master students putting all their work into a project for several weeks, doing all the research and coming up with solutions.
Loena Bautista, commissioner

Association Anatoth is a social and solidarity grocery shop based in Pernes-Les-Fontaines, France. The association receives donations from supermarkets and sells the products at reduced prices to people in need. Anatoth was created in 1998 and has been continuously growing ever since, today counting 19 employees and 5000 weekly customers.

In 2021, Anatoth started the project “S’aime La Terre” with the aim of providing fresh, local, organic, and affordable vegetables to its customers. One hectare of land was acquired, which became a diversified farming field the first year, and turned into an agroforestry parcel in 2023 with the planting of rows of trees in between the crops rows. Another half-hectare was acquired recently, with the intention to turn part of it into an edible forest garden: and that is when WUR students entered the picture.

The collaboration with WUR students proved instrumental in realising this ambitious vision. Weekly meetings facilitated a seamless exchange of ideas and ensured alignment with project objectives. As the commissioner recalls, "I had weekly meetings with the group which were very helpful to answer their questions and make sure that they were aligned with the project goals."

Students carried out valuable research, had consultations with experts and visits to existing food forests, and crafted a comprehensive plan for the area. This plan not only included a detailed map of the food forest but also provided a plant, shrub, and tree species list crucial for future implementation.

"The ACT team delivered a map of the food forest and a species list. The map will allow the implementation of the food forest at the farm," affirmed the commissioner, highlighting the tangible outcomes of the collaboration.

Anatoth remains open to continued partnerships with WUR. "My organisation is very pleased with the work and will keep in mind the opportunity to work with WUR students again in the future," remarked the commissioner.