Years ago we saw a movie called “The Girl from Paris” (the original French title was Une Hirondelle a Fait le Printemps) that told the story of a 30-year-old woman who is bored with her life as a computer specialist and decides to become a farmer. First she must get a 2-year degree in agriculture, including an internship on a working farm followed by sorting through the farming opportunities to find the best one to attain her goal. I remember being surprised at the time by two things: that an adult woman in Paris would strike out on her own to undertake such a big project alone and that there were educational options available to her that I had previously associated only with teenagers. Now that we live in France in a city surrounded by growing fields and where we have our own “wine high school”, it’s all falling into place.
An article in the newspaper about a 33 year old woman named Jade reminded me of that “girl from Paris” in the movie mentioned above. She has abandoned big-city life to return to the rural area where she grew up, a few minutes south of us, to become an independent winegrower. Jade was also a participant in the Miss et Mister France Agricole contest with the goal of promoting “agriculture in all its diversity and to highlight these women and men who work every day in the service of their territory.” No pin-up photos required (but see the paragraph below) to win; just hard work and dedication to providing the best possible food and drink to the public.
Some quick facts from the French government’s Ministry of Agriculture show that more than half the land in this country is farmland; that each French farmer fed 15 people in 1979, while that has now increased to 60 people; and one quarter of French farmers is unmarried or has no romantic partner. There’s a television show that’s been working hard for 17 seasons to remedy that last situation. Each week on L’amour Est Dans le Pré several couples try to make a connection and if successful, become instant stars with the progress of their romance being covered like celebrities.
Inspired by the success of calendars featuring firefighters and football (soccer) players wearing little more than a smoldering look, some agricultural groups around France have produced their own calendars where you get to SEE them at work on the farm. This is definitely a case where a picture says a thousand words, whether you speak French or not! An example is here on the left but I can assure you that the calendars we get from our local workers who keep us safe and comfortable contain only scenes of fires being extinguished, July 14th celebrations, and lighthouses along the Atlantic coast.
On a train ride coming back home from Spain we met a woman from Pakistan who was fascinated by our move to France. She wanted to know all about where we had decided to live, how we had made that decision, and one question that still sticks in my mind today—Do you grow your own food? We have a small courtyard and in some planter boxes Bill has successfully raised herbs and enough jalapeno peppers to keep us supplied for years but certainly not the fruits and vegetables we buy weekly at the market from all of those farmers who’ve done all the work, to whom we say, “Merci”!
Photo notes: Across the top are farmers’ fields in Cingle de Tremolat and in the first paragraph the pink flowers are Bellis perennis ‘Pomponette’ (English Daisy) at the Jardin de Reuilly in Paris.
2 thoughts on “We 💖 farmers”
It’s nice to see several of our elderly neighbors in their allotments in our hamlet, growing row upon row of potatoes, onions, garlic, beans, etc. – though we are surrounded by farmland. Many of the crops in this part of France are used for animal feed. The change in the statistics on how many of us a farmer can feed are eye-opening!
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We’re fortunate to be surrounded by small holdings and a wonderful selection of fresh produce.
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