Agro-forestery classes in the “Amanins”

I took part to a 2-days class on how the settle a forest garden. The agroecological centre called “Les Amanins” hosted the training. It was a good occasion to discover this interesting place in the South East of France?

The Amanins Center was born 11 year ago when the famous Pierre Rabhi met a rich indutrial called Michel Valentin.Together they decided to create a place to welcome people and shore knowledges and experiences through 4 ways of autonomy:

  • Food autonomy: today 20ha of cereals and 1,3ha of veggies & fruits are cultivated,  and 50 sheeps and 3 cows enables to produce cheese. This food enables to feed the visitors at 90%.
  • Energy autonomy: it is still to reach through the installation of solar panel and the reparation of the wind turbine…
  • Construction autonomy: they used essentially local ressources by building wood structures filled with straw and clay.
  • Financial autonomy is possible thanks to the school which welcome 35 kids, the hosting of the visitors and the pedagogical activities.

Today, the Center is a big structure hiring 15 people with exactly the same salary to care about the visitors, the gardens and the animals. The primary school is a separated structure, which was an Assiciation and will soon become a Fondation. It uses Montessori technics. A new structure called l’Université de l’Avenir pour is emerging to take care of adult teaching. The classes I folloowed are the first organized by this new structure.

One question leads to the development of the place

What planet will we let to our children and what children will we let to our planet ?

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Nuit Debout: is change on the way ?

During my last stay in Paris, I discovered a new movement growing bigger on the Republic place in the center of Paris. I was impressed by this self-managed dynamic, full of ideas and initiatives 🙂

Every thing started with the succes of the movie “Merci Patron” cirticizing the closing of a firm of the LVMH group, and the confrontation on the “Work Law” followed, but today the movement goes deeper… Everyday an community talk in agora in happening on various places in France, where anyone can speak about politics, environment, democracy, immigration, arts…

The movement is unfortunately assimilited with vandals who are organizing riots late in the night after the talks and debats. But according the me, the movement “Nuit Debout” isn’t this hate of the system pushing people to degradate the city and fight with the police, it is rather a positiv energy pushing people to think by themselves how we could improve the system and create a real community demacraty… And this process starts with the gathering of citizens asking themselves good questions, thinking together without hierarchie about the solutions…

One Sunday afternoon, I could observe on the Republic place many groups of discussions and various workshops which spontaneously emerged… They talked about the danger of nuclear power, the issues of migrations, the possibility to create a new constitution… as some others share seeds of rearange the publicity of the neighbourghood… Just see by yourself through this pictures:

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They even started a radio (but all in French sorry :)):

The long story of the recycle factory in Vigan

I gave a hand during one week to the recycle factory situated in the Cevenne mountaines in the center of France. This place has been created by people calling theselves the “rainbow warriors”.

About 15 years ago, after studing community education, Elise and Uto started to travel around the world presenting a show on peace called “Black and White”. In 2007, they organized a 4-months walk from the Pyreneens mountaines to Paris against the climate heating and the social glaciation. Afterwards, they settled in the forest with a nice autonomy. They organized in the period the first “Souffle du rêve”. They unfortunately had to leave their home in the forest, but thi was also the beginning of a new adventure !!

They decided to rent a 3 5000 m² former textile factory to create a place open to the public:

  • recycle factory where they sell furnitures, clothes, games…
  • repare workshops to work with wood, iron or electricity…
  • artistic workshops to sew clothes, paint, play music…
  • cultural spaces: cinema, library, kids space
  • but also a kitchen, an office, and many rooms for storage…

In one week, I cleaned and organized many furnitures and even cleaned the banks of the river next door. We also cooked many veggies and wild plants, met many people with similar desirs to settle in a natural place, and took place to various talking circle. We spent amazing moment there, giving hope in humanity !!

So if you want to support this project, you can give them some money on this website HelloAsso (Sorry it is only in French).

And here you can see some pictures:

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Chatermerle woollen mill

In 1976, Longomaï buy an old woollen mill in the Alpes, which isn’t production since 7 years. The owner teaches them his knowledge and the woollen mill start to produce again ! The machines are remplaced little by little, but they stay mecanic using water power. The woollen mill transforms today 12 tonnes of wool every year, coming from local sheeps to produce pull-overs, socks, jackets, hats, blankets…

It is a long process which starts with the wool cleaning in the summer, just after the shearing and the sorting. The wool must then dry and is stored until ti will get used. Each product is a precise mix of various wool of different quality and colors (Mohair, Bizet…). After adding some oil to the wool, it passes in various machine to card it and spin it and the weave it or knit it. The piece of wool are then sewed together by hand to create clothes.

In the past, several families lived in the woollen mill but today all the members are coming temporaly to keep the machine going, produces clothes and sell them in the shop. The products are also sold on many markets, espacially Christmas markets in Switzerland…

And here are some pictures:
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The “Recyclerie” an ecological alternative in the heart of Paris

The REcyclerie  opened on the 4th of June 2014 in a former train station called Ornano de la after 8 months of refection works. The place tourns around 3R values meaning Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and of “Do it yourself”. So I discovered there several spaces to eat, to reaxe, to garden and to repare…

  • the “café-cantine” offers meals made with local veggies and fruits, some are vetetarian or even vegan.  A soup-bar offers various delicious soup. A terasse an a mezzanin enable to relaxe with friends or connect to Internet. The place is a little posh and the prices too unfortunately. But you can still get a coffee for 1€!
  • René’s workshop enables to give a second life to all anything on your house. René helps you to repare and even lends you for free various tools…
  • the  urban farm  covers 400 m² with aromatic plants, veggies and fruits, as well as chicken, red fishes and very soon beehives. Thanks to vertical cultures, the cultivated place is doubled, which is a necessity in the city where soace is limited. Even the roof is used !
  • Various wrorkshop organized during the week enablen to visit the garden, learn how to make his own make-up product, or compost box, recycle his clothes or even make yoga or get massages… The agenda is really full !!

Here are some photos (Click on the pic to see more):

“Le souffle du rêve” : a self-managed festival to gather alternative intitiatives

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 This year I attended the third edition of the self-manged festival called “Le Souffle du Rêve”. It is a two weeks-festival happing in the south of France near Le Gars, welcoming various actors of the transition toword a more social and ecological world. All the pices were free and much energy autnomy was favoured. The place was organize around different themes: food autonomy, energy autonomy, handwork, live art, health, eco-construction, kids area…. The event was initiated by the association éRe d’évolution, and gathered several hundreds of people. To know more about the event, you can visite their website.

What especcially strucked me was the coherence of the whole event:

  • eneregy autonomy through solar panels and a big genertor using recycled oil.
  • sanitary autonomy thanks to compost toilets, simple showers and tranches to evacute the water. People could even use a bike-wasing machine !
  • waste management by using washable or biodegradable dishes. Many wasts were sorted out and directly reused during the festival (steel reinforcement bars for the smith, glass jars for the kitchens, bricks and plastics for artists…)
  • food autonomy thanks to the participaction of local veggies, honey and spirulina producers. A self-managed kitchen and many organic and vegen restaurants at free price eneble a healthy diet.
  • rich and diversified conferences and pratical workshop, among other we had conferences of  Maurice Chaudière on alternative beekeeping and grafting, of Eric Escoffier on ground regeneration and of Thierry Casanova on the body regeneration.
  • self-managed event as anyone could propose his own workshop, talk or discussion or simply give a hand at the parking lot, the arrangement of the place, the kitchen, the waste sorting… But self-managment isn’t an easy concept, especially when the participants are not sensibilized to it, but it was very instructive to try 🙂
  • an attempt to let a collective intelligence to emerge thanks to many debats in the agora around central themes with a large number of participants
  • various associations invited which enabled many initiatives to converge together toward a real transition.For example, these association took part to the festival:

feufollet                              cen

To see some pictures, just click in the picture below:

Practical course on wild plants cooking !!

Thanks to my agricultural training, I could join a 3-days practical course on eadible wild plants in the Jura mountains in France. This training starts the beginning of many wild meals as springs was transforming all the fields in food store !! I started to cook wild plants for my family, couchsurfers who hosted me and finaly the whole community of Longomaï (120 people).

We spent the first day indentifying all the available plants. Juste a few hundred meters from the school, we found about 30 different eadible plants. The second day, we elaborated a “wild menu” before picking all the required plants. We spent the rest of the time cooking all the meals to be able to savour them together at the end of the training.

« WILD SPRING MENU»

Apetizers
Fried lime-tree cones filled with wild aspargus
Wild origano pesto on toasts
Gallium cream
White wine flavoured with asperula and “mélite”
Nettle and hawthorn syrup

***

Starters
Wild aspargus samossa with its wild salad
Cheese and butter flavoured with wild herbs
Achillea and goose cheese sanwich

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Main dishs
Hogweed, lungwort and primrose lasagna
Nettle pie
Wild plants tabbouleh
Comfrey fritters

***

Desserts
Chocolate cake with ivy flavoured custared
Acacia fritters
Fir tree ice cream
Hogweed sorbet
Caramelized wild salsifies

And here are some picutures (just click on the link):