Yves Amiguet, third from right, explains the grafting process
A recruitment drive is underway to increase the number of producers of bio chestnuts in the Dordogne, as demand for the nuts continues to rise in Europe and across the world.
Last week around 50 people took part in an afternoon of information and hands-on advice at the foyer rural in Villefranche-du-Périgord that looked to offer help to owners of small chestnut woods, or those who were keen to transform other plots of land.
In the Dordogne there are around 100 producers of bio chestnuts, a long way behind numbers in southern parts of France, yet the demand is there as the market for bio products has increased by about 10% a year.
Speakers from Agence Bio, which aims to promote bio products across France, and the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Dordogne outlined some of the steps involved in 'going bio' including having to wait for the third year's harvest before being able to say the land has progressed from conventional farming to bio farming.
One of the reasons demand for chestnuts is rising is because it is gluten free, and the producer and transformation company, Eifel Productions that has a base in Villefranche-du-Périgord, explained that chestnut flour, flakes and the nuts themselves are proving increasingly popular.
The afternoon was rounded off with a visit to the small chestnut orchard of Yves Amiguet at Marou, on the edge of Villefranche-du-Périgord, who has been producing bio chestnuts since 1998.
The former bus driver explained that he picked up his appreciation of the chestnut trees after taking walks through the orchards in the area with his grandfather, which started when he was a child.
After retiring from his driving job, he slowly began to expand the amount of chestnuts he produced, usually by grafting and planting young saplings.
And as the visitors slowly walked up the gentle slope to listen to Yves, many reached out to touch the chestnut tress, or crumbled the sandy soil in their hands, possibly thinking of ways to start their own little bio corner in the Dordogne.
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