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Neo’s Ark

Permaculture nursery and arboretum in Champagné-Saint-Hilaire (Vienne region, France). Let us help the world of tomorrow take root today!

About the project

Why create edible landscapes ?

Because they are a solution to the food challenges that we are facing today!

Imagine picking delicious and healthy apples in public parks, or gleaning pear, prunes and blackberries in abundance for a little snack on the roadside. Imagine our cities and countryside dotted with beautiful and productive fruit trees. Imagine the garden of Eden…it is within our reach thanks to edible landscapes!

Edible landscapes emulate forest ecosystems and are designed to fulfill our nutritional needs. They can include fruit trees in grain fields as well as food forests, which are literally jungles of food-producing plants at all stages of the forest, from the ground to the canopy. The possibilities are endless!

All of these systems are characterized by an abundant production with little work input, as well as a remarkably rich biodiversity and a total respect of the life of the soil. Not only do they create a beautiful environment while offering shelter to a multitude of vegetal and animal life, we believe that edible landscapes are the cornerstone of tomorrow’s food production systems, that will be less dependent on fossil fuels.

Why create a permaculture seed nursery?

Because it is the best way to preserve, multiply and plant the trees of tomorrow!

Vigorous, productive and healthy trees are not as common as you would think. Today, fruit trees require numerous inputs (fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation). They are fragile, and produce practically tasteless fruit. It is essential that we find, collect and preserve those remarkable species that are the most robust in order to transmit an abundant and healthy food production system to future generations.

The seed nursery and arboretum will provide the means to preserve and multiply these species through natural selection, cutting and grafting these rustic plants, which will fulfill numerous ecological functions in public spaces, gardens, agricultural zones and hedges.

The nursery has been designed and will be managed according to permaculture principles, which are based on sober natural techniques that respect the environment and do not require fossil energy. The nursery will also comprise a research and training center focused on the ecological multiplication and cultivation of trees. This center will host training courses for professionals, as well as introduction courses on reforestation. 

Why us ?

Because we can make a difference!

We – Pascal and Hugo – love trees, and have given ourselves the mission to plant them everywhere! Because we create permaculture spaces all over France and can make a real difference, right away.

Because we are competent and have acquired the experience to manage such projects through our Kazakh apple tree preservation program, as well as all of the activities of the Terre Paille et Compagnie association.

Because we are disinterested. Neo’s Ark is a non-profit associative project, the benefits of which will go solely to the trees, to the planet and to its inhabitants! Because thanks to you, we can help the world of tomorrow take root today!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to do so is now.” - Folk wisdom

Here is the first version of the Neo’s Ark design:

What are the funds for?

Even non-profit projects need a bit of a boost to take off, and we are no exception to the rule! This call for funding aims at financing the launch of the nursery’s activity and to help us initiate this project.

The global budget of 45,000 € will be secured partly thanks to this crowdfunding campaign, partly thanks to the revenue acquired by the association with courses organized in 2016, as well as with savings from previous years.

What will the money you contribute be used for?

Our priority is to acquire the first rare varieties that we plan to preserve and multiply in Neo’s Ark. We plan to plant 250 trees with 5,000 € of your donations. This is just a start, and we will increase this number if the crowdfunding is very successful.

We also plan to build a bioclimatic building with a contiguous greenhouse. Our strength resides in our skills. We have built many buildings ourselves and are familiar with using natural materials. This building will be made of straw bales (using the Cellule sous Tension technique) with an earth coating.

The contiguous greenhouse (facing South) will create a very energy-efficient building and allow us to grow our fragile little trees in a warm environment.

The greenhouse will also be self-built using natural and salvaged materials. 6,000 € of the funds will be used for these buildings by allowing us to acquire the necessary materials, and to host the volunteers who will come learn about building by lending us a hand during the construction process.

As we will need to protect the seedlings, we will install a barrier to protect them against animals. Our experience in creating a food forest with Kazakh apple trees taught us that herbivores can seriously damage seedlings. This barrier is essential and sadly quite expensive: 3,000 € of your funds will allow us to buy and install it, to protect our garden of Eden from our famished forest friends!

Your donations will also allow us to pay the author of the beautiful project presentation video! Hugo Voussakovitch, our talented filmmaker, has worked hard to imagine and create his beautiful clip, and part of the funds collected will allow us to pay him. 

About the project owner

Terre Paille & Compagnie is a 1901 assocation which promotes permaculture as a model for sustainable development. It was created in 2011 to maintain the incredible momentum that was created around the creation of an oasis. We believe that these periods have led to important changes for us as well as for our visitors, and want to push this adventure further.

Permaculture has always been a source of inspiration for this place and the terre-pailleux is a permaculture designer at heart, even in transition.

Since 2009, we have learned and developed numerous permaculture skills, notably in construction and natural agriculture, and in doing so a calling has emerged to pursue conservation fruit tree arboriculture. We have planted thousands of trees of all kinds, many of which are now producing fruit. 

Pascal Depienne

Hugo Carton

Pascal Depienne is a permaculture designer and trainer in 2009. He is a tree fanatic who founded the Brin de Paille and Terre Paille & Compagnie. During one of his permaculture design certificate courses, he met Hugh Carton, an engineer with a diploma from Sciences-Po Paris. Hugo decided to acquire his permaculture design diploma with the association. Their encounter, combined skills and common interests gave birth the Neo’s Ark project.

Pascal has taught more than 30 certified permaculture courses in France and abroad, and has created more than 20 designs for individuals and professionals. Hugo is learning at his side in terms of teaching and designing while providing valuable knowledge through his project management skills and technical know-how.

They are working together on the plantation of cultivated ecosystems (food forests, agroforestry orchards, agroecological farms…), in order to improve local food resilience, to protect and create biodiversity havens and to create positive social dynamics around trees. The Terre Paille & Compagnie project seeks to showcase a creative and productive permaculture design, which is important for permaculture design to develop and be recognized in France. 


The association’s website:

The association’s facebook page:

The nursery website (in the making):

Terre Paille & Compagnie newsletter: