It's seems that 'bio' or organic fairs are popping up all over France. None more so than here in deepest Perigord where rural traditions and 'old timey' horticultural methods have never departed.

Last Sunday we visited a 'doors open' weekend at a farm that specialises in all things bio, particularly small scale manufacture of 'purins' or natural brews which bring many benefits to the garden. An open door weekend is in fact something of a small fete with numerous stalls and activities taking place.

The photo above is of a poster pinned above the entrance to the farm. It's a promotion for a documentary released a couple of years ago. 'The Nettle Fairy of the Resistance' is a close translation, the film argued against the power of the large agro-chemical companies whose influence in government led to some strange and unfriendly French law, an example being to outlaw the manufacturing for sale of nettle soup, or 'purin d'ortie'. The humble nettle is now the symbol for a groundswell of French opinion and desire to reclaim better methods of husbandry for the planet as a whole. The law has recently been relaxed.

Following the terrible events in Japan, like everywhere, the nuclear issue is again at the fore. Nuclear power is the primary source of electricity in France, generating some 79%, the highest percentage in the world. The anti - nuclear contingent were present at the fete, you decide.

The farm's plant sale area was charming in its disorganisation. You never know what you may stumble upon.

But then that's part of the charm.

L'Escargot are still very popular in France. This stall was doing a brisk trade, and for those that maintain that snails are just a good way to get at the garlic butter, well they can be prepared in many ways, for example in the Burgundian style of gently poached in red wine (a burgundy of course) to name just one.

Kids were well entertained. Donkey rides down by the small lake, a story teller below.

Another poster. The French create some of the most beautiful poster art. It basically reads 'Less pesticides, more life'.

Oh and another one for Savon Noir, a handy little soap which acts as a good pesticide. I posted about it here.

Another poster, this one promoting Stevia as an alternative sweetner. You could buy small stevia plants at 10 euro a piece.

Finally, I purchased 5 litres of a good all-round liquid manure, composed of horsetail, comfrey, nettle and fern. I've made my own nettle soup before, you can read about it here, but I need to give this melange a go.


  1. Bonjour-- Another wonderful post. I, too, enjoy French posters and signs. My favorite is "L'ortie fee de la Resistance"-- clever play on words. I also love the pic of the donkey ride. Can't wait to visit la Dordogne (where part of my family lives) in a few short weeks. Thank you for this great post. Veronique -aka French Girl in Seattle

  2. Great post, those posters are fantastic. Diane

  3. Snails...look good. Now I want nettles.

  4. What a perfect place to visit on a Sunday Rob. Interested in the figure you quote re.nuclear power in France - was not aware that it was such a high percentage. Will be interested to hear how you fare with your manure potage ~ I have all the ingredients to manufacture similar at the allotment. Hope that you have had some of that most wished for wet stuff.

  5. Bio is a good thing!

    The nuclear thing is scary. My husband lobbied against our local nuclear plant--talked to the governor--way back then. It was built, but now they are running out of space to store the nuclear, that's the next problem. We are a few miles outside the evacuation zone.

    The photos of the fete remind me of the movie Chocolat! :-)

    Speaking of chocolat--just had organic, fresh, sweet cherries and dark chocolate for a snack. Yum.

  6. Let me know how that melange works. I have horsetail by the hundreds of thousands.

  7. I didn't realize that France got so much power from nuclear. I really wish more research was being done in more ways to use solar. Not doable in all parts of the world but in many.

  8. I learned about the purin d'ortie, which is more a fermentation than a soup. It's supposed to smell to high heaven but be incredibly good for your plants. I would like very much to make some, but can you believe it? I can't get the nettle seed I bought to germinate. I may have to sneak a whole plant out of the park not far from here.

    Thanks for the pretty pictures!

  9. What great pictures and posters. I've been mentally unfair to the French - never thought them interested in organic issues.

  10. Frenchie in Seatle, You French have a talent for poster art, and cartoons, you'll no doubt have a great time when your over visiting family.

    Diane, the posters are superb. I'll snap more when I come across them.

    Marie, snails yum. Nettles are a good vegetable. Maybe layer a lasagne with them?

    Anna, we had a good two inches of rain yesterday over an 18 hour period. The right sort of rain, penetrated deep down into the earth.

    Freda, France is awash with electricity. The Germans announced to cancel their nuclear power plans. Strangely, they'll import some power from France, generated by nuclear.

    Chocolat was shot in and around Belves I believe, 15 kilometres from here.

    James I'll let you know. I made nettle manure last year. It seemed to work. It must be diluted between 5 and 10%. Stronger and it acts as an insect repellent. It can also be applied as a foliar spray to fertilise. PS, I've been checking Wigandia.

    Sweetbay, the French embraced nuclear with gusto. Solar is on the increase but needs to be cost effective. Over in Provence and Corsica they have up to and in excess of 2,700 hours sunshine annualy.

    Paula, oh it stinks alright. Think silage and rotten eggs. Tha said, when applied to the ground the smell soon passes. You need to go around and thrash a load of nettle tops down, macerate them in a bucket of water until they ferment and the surface bubbles. Stick a lid on at this stage. Ready after 10 days to a couple of weeks.

    Hermes, Farming is big business in France and as such the market for the agro- chemical companies has been large. I think France was late to embrace the organic thing, but that has changed.

  11. What a beautiful place. Escargots and nettle soup both sound delicious. The nuclear story in Japan is a continuing nightmare. Maybe France will follow Germany in reining it in? Viva l'organiques!

  12. Beautiful and interesting. Loved the posters,the farm, the activities all around.

  13. That looks like fun! I love plant sales at fairs or farmers markets. As you said, you never know what you'll find!

  14. Rob, Yesterday and today have been unbelievably hot and humid. Most unusual for the shore of Lake Michigan. Since it is way to hot to work in the Gardens at Waters East, it is a good time to catch up on your Blog and other Blogs I am following. A couple of weeks back you talked about the heat in France, I think it moved over here! The posters were great to see. Thanks. Jack

  15. Catmint, the snails have culinary significance, the nettle soup doesn't, it really stinks, better on the plants I think.

    Rosaria, farms like these are are around, it just takes time to find them.

    Hi Micheal, true indeed, there is always a gem hidden away at plant sales

    Jack, we've had rain and cool temperatures. Maybe you have our heat after all. Bet the fishing's good in lake Michigan.

  16. The posters look so marvelously retro, and I wish I could get my hands on some of that melange :)

    I always enjoy my visits to your blog.

  17. Wonderful post Rob! Great posters and I will love nettles even more now. What a battle we all must wage to keep out the poisons and GMOs (same thing). I had no idea France depended so heavily on nuclear power. I would love to try the melange too!


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