Our local organic market garden has started having seasonal apéro evenings to reward regular customers and entice new ones. They are scheduled to coincide with their weekly Tuesday evening market and include drinks, farm grown nibbles and a tour of the farm.
Organic vegetables for sale.
What's in season in May? Beetroot (betterave), leeks (poireaux), pointed spring cabbage (choux pointu), spinach (épinard), radishes (radis), carrots (carottes), new potatoes (pommes de terre nouvelles), turnips (navets), broccoli (brocoli), chard (blette), kohlrabi (choux-rave), peas (petits pois), strawberries (fraises), cauliflower (choufleur), lettuce (salade), broad beans (fèves), zucchini (courgette), cucumber (concombre). Frances is choosing a cabbage and it looks like Jeanne is heading for the peas.
Alain, Pierre-Yves, Pierre, Fabien and Bernadette hover around the drinks and nibbles table.
Most of the nibbles were made on the farm from ingredients they had grown. One dish was apparently a cake make from carrot tops. I'm not sure if I had that or not. Everything was very good anyway.
The permaculture greenhouse full of cabbages, green beans, potatoes, peas, chard, turnips, beetroot and other vegetables.
The rows of vegetables are grown as a carefully planned mixture which mature at different times or support one another. Potatoes are being grown under cabbages, with turnips and beetroot alongside. Peas and cucumbers are growing up trellises with other vegetables growing under them. Weeds are allowed to grow then covered in geotextile so they rot down into the soil, thus nourishing it with all the nitrogen they have collected from the air. At the far end of the greenhouse is a large patch of nettles, used for making purin, a liquid fertilizer.
Spring cabbage (Fr. choux pointu), with an interesting looking keeled slug.
Experimental orchard growing mixed rows of fruit.
The orchard is rows of mixed fruit trees, to see if that helps control diseases and pests. Poultry, sheep and pigs are allowed to graze under the trees to fertilize them and keep the grass down (although the pigs don't have much respect for electric fences and several times the police have phoned Sylvain to tell him that his pigs are having a party somewhere down the road).
Sylvain pointing out worms.
Numerous times during the tour of the farm Sylvain pointed out how friable the soil was even with their no dig approach. He also pointed out lots of worms, acting to break down organic matter and aerate the soil with their burrows. Periodically they get a truck load of shredded garden waste from the recycling centre which they dump on a growing area to a depth of about 10cm. It suppresses weeds and provides nutrients but Sylvain explained that when you plant into it you have to dig a pocket down to the level of the real soil to put seedlings in. They currently have cabbage seedlings growing in a bed created like this, carefully covered with fine net to prevent caterpillar damage.
Tony (right), who runs the apple orchard, talking to Gérard and Alain.
Sylvain explaining the permaculture techniques used in the greenhouse.
The beady eyed amongst you will have noticed that Sylvain and everyone on the farm tour is holding a glass of rosé. But no plastic disposables here. Sylvain, who runs the market garden, is using an old mustard jar (very traditional) and others have acrylic picnic glasses.
The farm is Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière, just outside of Preuilly. From Preuilly sur Claise take the route de Loches and turn right at the intersection of the D41 and the D50 onto the small road with an apple orchard on the left. The farm entrance is about 500 metres on the right. Every Tuesday evening from 5 - 7 pm there is an on farm market. They also come to the market in Preuilly (veggies on Thursdays and apples on Saturday) and supply the Maison des Producteurs in Loches (near SuperU). If you prefer a veg box they have collection points in Cormery, Monts, Ballan-Miré, Civray, Nitray and Chambray-lès-Tours.