Mis à jour : août 27
We have a great experience discovering the marvelous and mysterious profession of seed saving while enjoying a beautiful environment and a fantastic team !
The Jardins de l’Ecoumène are born in 2001 thanks to Guylaine and Jean-François. They make up 3ha of two gardens as well as a nursery greenhouse, a cold chamber and several storage areas to keep some plants out of freeze during winter as well as to store material. There is also a huge space called, La Fabrique, where the packaging and seed tests as well as order preparation happen. There are two main processing areas, one regarding dry extraction and the other for humid extraction.
We also find onsite the living house of Guylaine and Jean-François as well as several places to share a good meal with the team or make trainings and a farm shop as well as more forest land.
The team is about 3-4 people for the gardens with Jean-François in addition and 3-4 people in the offices and the Fabrique with Guylaine in addition.
For those who are used to veggie gardening, there are a lot of differences in the garden compared to a classical market garden. The gardens are separated and set up far from each other in order to cultivate several varieties of a same species without risk of crossed pollination. Some plants are organized according wind corridors to prevent this too. The plants are not planted in order to optimize yield but rather to develop well in order to be able to harvest the seeds once complete maturity is reached.
Several plants need to enter senescence or flower then seed to be harvested, the gardens aspect is thus very different. The presence of rotten veggies is rather a good sign as is the flowering !
Counter intuitively for a veggie grower, the maximum of plants is planted outside of tunnels and when they are it is under cold tunnels as the objective is to develop varieties that develop well in the local climate and quickly enough to reach maturity during the season without the need for a tunnel or a greenhouse. In fact, even the tomatoes are cultivates outside !
The humid or dry extraction. Knowing which corresponds to which vegetable/plant is rather intuitive. At least at first glance anyway, the humid extraction is mainly concerned with fruit veggie and the dry extraction with those that flower, notably the leafy greens for example. The dry extraction is made with sieves and a small machine that enable to triage the seeds through vibrating plates, a small wind tunnel and some additional sieves. The humid extraction is made in water, sometimes letting the seed ferment a bit to remove the pulp then the seeds are dried.
The seeds are followed from harvest and are attributed lot numbers that will fallow them until packaging and through sales. There is a software being continuously improved that manages the complete flux from lot attribution to packaging going through germination tests in order to ensure the quality and traceability of the seeds.
The sale is mainly done through internet but also through the shop and several additional sale outlets.
One of the strongest points of the Jardins de l’Ecoumène is that they are searching for a wide variety of heritage and local North American varieties notably connecting to the first people in order to contribute to their preservation and their come back into contemporary cooking. There are a lot of heritage varieties of vegetables on their website.
VIDEOS MADE ON-SITE
short version to introduce the venue
Longer version of our wwoofing experience