Journée BIO des Corbières

Journée BIO des Corbières

Pete

Pete

It is that time of year again, the lovely organic festival at the Chateau de Bonnafous is this Sunday, 5th June from 9am all day. It is a great little showcase of the organic producers in the area. However it would be great to see them add a bit of other local production, there are now at least six other plant growers in Les Corbieres, a Safron producer, three herb transformers, who make essential oils and dried herbs as well as more and more vegetable growers. Most of the above try and follow a near organic approach but for various reasons cannot describe themselves as organic. Normally they cannot afford the three year transition that it takes for an existing small holding to become organic, or they resent paying 700 euro a year to prove a negative. I mean it is a bit ridiculous that we have to pay a certifier to say that we don’t use chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. Instead of resellers of ‘magnetic rocks’ that apparently help you lose weight as an obese reseller explained to me last year(1)why not open the festival up to the many new producers that are arriving in Les Corbieres. We really have a new groove going on let’s celebrate it.

That is the rant over, it is still a great day and the weather is looking good. Best time to get here is around 11, that way you can have a good look around, buy some plants and be in place for the free appero/wine tasting of the organic wine producers then settle down to some serious eating.

Hope to see you there.

Stands de producteurs bio et artisanat, conférences, animations, musique

à 9h : Ouverture au public

à 10h: “Viande bio ou pas bio ? pourquoi ?” conférence par Marie Paule Nougaret ;

à 11h45 : apéritif offert – dégustation des vins des producteurs présents – Lâcher de pigeons ;

à 14h: “Le Jardin écologique” conférence par Hélène Hollard ;

à 15h30 : “Échappées sauvages ” divertissement pour les enfants avec la Cie “Les Baladins du Rire” ;

à 17h30 : tirage de la tombola

(1)Nothing against obese people or resellers, as someone who does not have any ‘truc’ with the mumbo jumbo aspect of the organic movement it just struck me as vaguely ironic

journe bio Corbieres

Journée Bio 2016

Court Circuit en Corbieres new blog

Court Circuit en Corbieres

Court Circuit en Corbieres

Court Circuit en Corbieres, our local association has launched s new blog. Court Circuit en Corbieres is now entering their third year of bringing local producers together with local clients. Court Circuit en Corbieres was formed as a response to the atomisation and economic decline of the Haut Corbieres. Drawing its inspiration from the ideas of the Slow Food Movement and also Transition Network, but also reaching back to the neo-ruralists of the late 1960s  Circuit en Corbieres seeks to encourage local residents and visitors alike to meet and support local producers, they work to encourage new producers to move and establish themselves in the Haut Corbieres.

Court Ciucuit en Corbieres acivities

 

Court Circuit en Corbieres runs a local producer delivery system, whereby you can order from a monthly updated list of local suppliers produce, see http://court-circuitencorbieres.eklablog.com/le-groupement-d-achat-c27186122

From June to September Court Circuit en Corbieres also organise a lovely little evening market in Laroque de Fa every Friday evening, from 5pm to 9pm, with a buvette, a bbq and food, often music so you can make a pleasant evening chatting with local producers and meeting locals and visitors alike.  See http://court-circuitencorbieres.eklablog.com/le-marche-c27186126 for more details.  We try and attend every month but because we do Narbonne Organic market and the Perpignan local producers market in Place de la Republique  every Saturday, as well as organic festivals and flower markets on Sundays it not possible to do every week. We need some sleep after all.

(Court Circuit en Corbieres is trying to keep local money local, as opposed to buying from the large national and international food retailers, so they are also looking at local money schemes such as the Cers complementary local money scheme based around Narbonne, but used throughout the Aude.

Slow Food Roussillon

La Ferme des 8 vaches

La Ferme des 8 vaches is a fascinating new project here in the high Corbieres. Maëlle Sirou arrived in Les Corbieres in 2010, she worked as a nature guide and holiday centre manager for Canton of Mouthoumet  at the canton’s development association ADHco centre at Borde Grande where she met and worked with Annaig Servain and Mathieu Vaslin as they set up La Rove des Fa, an organic goat herd from which they produce cheese, yogurts and meat in the commune of Laroque de Fa.

ferrandaiseShe has been looking at various projects to launch herself and after 18 months of working through ideas with ADEAR, the development association linked with the Confederation Paysanne,  has finally settled on raising a small herd of organic  Ferrandaise cattle. The Ferrandaise race is a cow of French origin, predominantly raised in the Puy de Dome and ideally suited to the Mouthemet environment, like most traditional varieties it slowly disappearing from farms in France.

 

Maëlle will transform the milk into cheese using the same workshop as La Rove de Fa, as well as selling veal meat and calves to other producers.

Maëlle has already locates 70 hectares of land in the canton of Mouthoumet, 50 rented from the commune and 20 hectares of privateky owned land. The idea is to start with a small herd of 8 cows and slowly build up the size as the business grows.

What she needs now is some investors to help her with the set up costs. To that end she has launched a crowd funding initaitive to allow interested folk whereever they may be to add their support to the project. If you speak French all the details of the project can be found at http://fermedes8vaches.weboo.org/index.php/le-projet/ including a detailed budget for the farm des 8 vaches.

After writing on the sad development of Lezignan Corbieres it is great to see refreshing projects such as this. The High Corbieres in recent years has seen a number of new projects, from wine growers converting to organic production, market gardens,  mushroom raising, honey makers; safron growing,  sheep and goat herders, organic bread makers, even organic herb growers. There are now small local summer markets at Laroque de Fa, Solagté and Montjoi, a local producers shop in Villesrouge – Terménés and a local producers shop in Lezignan. There is a real sense that things are moving in the right direction.

Part of the responsibility for these positive developments is the work that the small team at ADEAR have put in helping turn ideas into reality, another is the very emptiness of the High Corbieres. Land here is some of the cheapest in France which helps cut down start up costs.It feels like we are slowly aproaching a critical mass allow us to build up the infrastucture so sadly lacking. That is not to minimise the problems of an unhelpful State, a Chambre d’Agriculture  stuck in the last century, or isolation from profitable markets but on the whole I feel things are picking up. So good to to the Ferme des 8 vaches project and all the other ideas that are slowly turning into real agricultural start ups.

Lezignan Corbieres market musing

Going to the Lezignan Corbieres market for the past three years has got me musing about the changing nature of markets and town centres.marche

Public markets and town centres have taken a huge hit over the past 50 years. It all really started with the spread of that beastlie energy gobler- the domestic fridge. Perishable and fragile foods no longer had to be bought on a daily basis. A weekly shop could be kept in good condition in the home. Profiting on the spread of the fridge the idea of a single stop shop for all the home’s needs came into it’s own, the super market was born. As it is difficult to carry a week’s shopping parking, not often found in plenty in town centres, became a necessity. So the supermarkets moved out of town centres onto the ring roads where land was cheap and access by car easier.

Markets struggled on while the town centres in which they were traditionally held slowly died, local shops slowly close down unable to compete with the single mass buying power of the large supermarket chains. The character of town centres and indeed town life changed.

The change is not just economic but social as well. Thriving town centres and their markets play an important part in fixing the social glue that hold communities together, it is not just about talking to producers and resellers who understand their wares and produce, they are also meeting points to catch up with friends and neighbours. A brief hello over a charged trolly in Tesco’s is not the same as a good gossip over a cup of java or pint in a local tea shop or pub. Not that there are many tea shops left, just loads of franchised coffee chains.

The empty town centres of traditional market towns are sad reflections of the shift in consumer patterns. Thirsk town centre where I grew up is a ghost of its former self, the hand full of shops and market stand holders is a sad memory of the bustling chaos that was my happy youthful memories.

I was reminded of the changes I have seen in Thirsk a couple of weeks ago in Lezignan Corbieres market. I arrived as usual at 6.30am to find my spot covered in blood, apparently there had been an altercation between a group of lads and a kid, the kid ended up the worse for the encounter, upon finding out what happened to his son the father, I was told, came into town and stabbed three of the group. Lezignan Corbieres, when we arrived in 1999, had one friendly shabby old Champion and a badly run, dirty Intermarche. We now had a Lidl, Aldi, Dea, Netto three new ring road shopping centres and a virtually dead town centre. More and more of the local businesses are closing up, some taking space in the commercial centres but increasingly just giving up as sons and daughters have no wish to take over, or revenues have dropped off to such a low level that the business is no longer sustainable. Evenings are apparently a tad hazardous at times, while official business is on the decline unofficial tobacco sales and heavier drugs are becoming more open and bring with them the associated turf disputes.

Some of my more elderly clients tell me they leave the house rarely, to visit the doctor (Nothing bar a nuclear war, or rain, will stop the French confirming their deeply held belief that a painful and unusual illness is just around the corner) and to come down for the market. On Wednesday’s market day they can combine buying their veg with discussing with friends in minute detail their latest terrible symptoms and show off the small haversack of various medicines the Doctor has prescribed in perfect security. We stand holders have a vested interest in a safe market place.

The irony is of course is that while the town centre is slowly decaying the town itself is rapidly expanding, as well as the new commercial zones, an extension of the college, the new lycee, the building of a new media centre the walled bungalow lotissements are reaching out into the vines at an amazing rate. When we arrived back in 1999 Lezignan Corbiere had 8, 266 residents, by 2012 they had swollen to 10,866 according to  Lezignan Corberes Wikipedia page so I reckon they will have passed the 12,000 mark and be racing towards the 13,000 record in the near future

The political response has been muted, the new Socialist/Communist administration as well as holding off a resurgent Front Nationale were elected on a programme of town regeneration have got it half right, the new lycee being built will help a little, the plans to re furnish some of the centre will have some benefits if they are properly instituted. One great initiative was the launch of the Lezignan Corbieres local producers market on Saturday, Wednesday’s market will remain the largest but it is great to see some support for local farmers and an acknowledgement that producing and re selling are different activities. The former creates local sustainability, employment and keep money local; the latter exports money to distant suppliers and does little to create a vibrant local economy.

Right rant over time to sort the plants out for the market in Lezignan Corbieres tomorrow

More intelligent people than me at the new economics foundation have done a lot of work on revitalising local economies- Clone Town Britain is definitely worth a read.