At the Villereal market last Saturday there was a young lady we hadn't seen before, selling her fruit and vegetables. She looked ever so gorgeously hippy so we wandered over to see what she had on her stall. Her sign proudly announced her tomatoes, zucchinis, capsicums, melons etc were raised "pleine terre" (the name for unofficial organics here in France) and incorporating permaculture. I bought a couple of her round zucchinis to stuff and then I noticed she had a leaflet which I picked up too as it is always good to get to know the growers we buy from. As luck would have it, Sandrine and Rene lived only a few kilometres away from us and were offering farm visits and as we have the KGI get-together happening in a couple of weeks we thought this might just be the kind of place it would be great to experience.
So, today we visited Sandrine and Rene and their 2 dogs, 2 angora goats, 150 chickens (meat and eggs), who knows how many rabbits, a couple of dams full of fish, an array of summer vegetables and a poly tunnel to keep things going into winter. Rene is Austrian and next to the front door he has a keg of beer on tap from which he pulled us each a glass and himself a big stein before sitting us down at a shady table for a couple of ripe figs and a chat!
This is their first year and their enthusiasm bubbles out of every pore of their tanned skins. They have a dream to live a natural existence amongst well-cared for, loved (and eventually eaten) animals and to produce food from soil enriched with humus and all good things, in the style I am so at home with..... semi-organised chaos.
They knew of Bill Mollison, the Australian who first created a style of thinking and living and growing called permaculture and asked me if I had a copy of "Introduction to Permaculture" ..... which I have..... in French, which I have not and which is hard to find evidently. Please let me know if you have one I could lend them!
Sadly I didn't take my camera today but those of you coming to the Kitchen Gardeners weekend in September will get to meet Sandrine and Rene, and they will show us the beginnings of their dream and provide us with BBQ of some of their chickens and rabbits and salads from their garden. What do they want in return? Ideas, friendships, contacts, fun and a chance to relax amongst their fields and forests, overlooking their lake, with like-minded people. Of course I offered to bring a cake..... an offer no-one has ever refused, yet. I am so pleased to have found this lovely couple and hope it is the start of a long and happy relationship for us all.