WHEN Simon Longe suffered a serious car accident, and spent five years in a wheelchair, the decision to move his family to France was not as straightforward as that of others.
But having come from an agricultural background, and in particular farming rare breed pigs, the accident did not stop him from establishing a farm in France and a reputation as the person to talk to for all things pig.
“I come from a Norfolk farming background and was trained at the Norfolk College of Agriculture,” said Simon.
“But in 1993 I suffered a serious road accident which put me in a wheelchair for five years and although I can walk, to a fashion, when I finished surgery I decided with my wife and two children to move to France, buy a small farm and try and feed ourselves from our farm.”
Simon’s interest in keeping the bloodlines of rare breed pigs soon became a passion that saw him create a wooded environment for them to enjoy on his Vendée farm and recently the formation of a website, Pigs in France, so he can pass on tips and advice.
“I keep all my pigs at liberty in woods and find old breeds have much greater ability for this life particularly the motherhood values and coping with natural conditions and most importantly the meat is much better,” said Simon.
“I brought across three Gloucestershire Old Spots from the UK as I found there was not a single purebred in France and from them produced the first ever to be born on French soil.”
Simon’s experience of working in the UK pig breeding industry in the 1980s and 90s proved a difficult time as government measures to promote the rearing of outdoor pigs, saw him and other farmers face severe competition from European producers.
And although he still sees farms in the Vendée using intensive methods he hopes that he can do something to help change attitudes.
“I am pleased to say that several French folk have weaners off me, who keep them at liberty as they should be,” he said.
“And I am working with the British Pig Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust who endorse what we are doing as there are many expat smallholders who want to keep rare breed pigs and we can make a real contribution to their survival.”
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Hopeing to find info about keeping pigs in France - 'Googled' & found your website but link to www.pigsinfrance.com brings up an error. Can you help me to find info please?
Posted by: Jane Jinks | 15 July 2006 at 21:28
Admire your devotion to rare breed pigs. I keep Saddlebacks in Australia. Want to know more about French breeds of pigs, though - am trying to trace a bred called "red wattle" back to France. Any clues as to sources you could give me?
Posted by: allan | 27 February 2008 at 01:20
Hi Allan, I think it is most probably worth clicking on through to the Pigs in France website and seeing if they can help with more.
All the best, Craig
Posted by: Craig McGinty | 28 February 2008 at 09:35