Saturday, 28 March 2015

From Sunflowers to Alpacas.


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It's less than 20 years since Sunflowers have been grown as an agricultural crop in this area, and now further north; previously they were almost exclusive to the deep south (Van Gogh country).

They are grown here both as the following year's seed crop, and also as an oil crop; but mostly for oil.

I was talking to my neighbour, Laurence, about this year's crops and she informed me that each grower in her little 3 member Sunflower 'syndicate' will from now on only grow once in every three years; cutting the total crop by two thirds. Too much oil about, I presume.

So this reduces her arable crops to Triticale (a type of wheat), Maize, and the Sunflowers once in every three years. What a difference to 43 years ago when I first came to live here.

Back in 1972 there were small vineyards everywhere, every farm had a few Pigs, and the courtyards were filled with Hens, Ducks, and Geese. Milk was also produced by every farm. None of these now exists, and everything is brought in from elsewhere. A sorry state of affairs for a corner of Europe that was renowned for it's quality of produce, and almost perfect growing climate.

No doubt this folly will be corrected at some time in the future; but when remains conjecture.

Farming in this part of the world seems to be approaching a crisis point. I know of several neighbouring farms where the owners are 'elderly' and there is no-one in the wings to carry the batton. Children automatically head for cities, and the countryside is once again becoming barren. What will happen to all these wonderful farms, I don't know.

I can envisage the same happening here, as has in England's southern counties, where the old farms were bought by wealthy Londoners, and the land used for leisure activities.

I hate seeing these once productive farms becoming 'gentrified', and the land home to just a few ponies and alpacas. Many have, and the results are already obvious; a couple of years ago when my own crop of onions was depleted, I was obliged to buy onions that were grown in New Zealand. I think that says a lot about The European Union in general.

Alpacas yes; Sunflowers or Onions no. (I suppose I also ought to add Tobacco no; Barn conversions yes. I'm part of the problem).


19 comments:

  1. Same thing is hapaning here, i live in a country side where we had a lot of farms and now there are only few left.We import fruts from all over the world , we dont buy less so someone has to grow the fruits that we want to eat.:)

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    1. I suppose it's all part of a greater 'Political correctness', to give business to poorer countries, so that their economies can thrive, as ours decline.

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  2. I saw the apples are from south tirol, from France and USA, so i dont know.

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    1. Maybe Israel thinks that those countries need some help! We certainly do here in France.

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  3. It is too difficult for me to talk about this subject. Makes a change doesn't it!

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  4. What, nothing to say about Alpacas?

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  5. One of the biggest problems overhere in the UK Cro is that it is impossible any longer to make a living from a small farm. Most of the small farms round here (including ours) were dairy farms. The supermarkets have this control over milk prices and the farmers do not get enough to make a small milking herd viable, so either they get out of milk (as we did) or they sell out to farmers who own bigger and bigger farms. As my farmer is over retiring age none of this matters to us - but many are younger men with families, struggling to make a living. We have one farmer friend who still has a few sheep, a couple of goats, geese (which he rears in great numbers for the Christmas market) and various assorted animals - but that is because he loves doing it. The real money he makes from his many acres of other crops.

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    1. I have noticed that my neighbours are now cutting a lot of wood each winter..... one of the few ways to make any money.

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  6. Yes, it is a sad development of the global economy and the E.U. which treats the whole of Europe as a single market competing with the rest of the world. The French obsession with the state of their livers has caused the loss of vineyards in part. You used to see French lorry drivers stop off for a pastis at 6.00 in the morning, or half a bottle of wine at lunch.

    Just when they grubbed up the remaining cider orchards here in Somerset ( and taxed the hell out of cider) cider has become fashionable again, and the government has finally realised the scope of the potential export revenues.

    As always, it's down to a bunch of c***'s as to how the countryside fayres.

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  7. I do hope farming starts to change back but I fear it never will. Feed lots of cows in filth eating corn breaks my heart. The Reluctant Omnivore is a fantastic book that delves into this very well.

    I am always annoyed that I can only find Chinese garlic in my grocery stores, despite Ontario growing great amounts of it. If I see the produce manager I always ask them why there is no Ontario garlic, but they look at me like I am crazy. Just one little example of the situation.

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  8. Lifestyles change constantly. However, the pendulum is always moving and we often find that what is old becomes new again. You just have to live long enough.

    Rotating crops is good for the soil.

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  9. Things change
    Thats the way of the world

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  10. Farming is changing everywhere Cro and sadly not for the better, BUT I still have hope. Here in the US there is a strong movement towards back to the land, small famers growing enough for themselves and selling off extra. Of course government is threatened by it, wants to regulate and tax it but more of us are saying NO in big ways. Maybe in the end a futile fight but in the meantime we are deeply enjoying our own beef, pork, eggs and raw milk. At least when we're killed off we'll be HEALTHY! Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. You are a perfect example to those who wish to farm correctly. Long live Eco small-holders.

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  11. I hope those who say the pendulum will swing the other way are right.

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  12. I'm guessing this cut back in growing sunflowers will increase the price of sunflower oil ultimately...ummm, wonder what the reasoning could be. (ok, so perhaps I am being cynical, lol) ;)

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  13. British farmers can't compete with cheap stuff from elsewhere and the low low prices offered by shops who are under pressure from consumers to sell cheap produce. I believe that in the future it will change again and we will realise that we shouldn't rely on food that travels hundreds or thousands of miles and become more self sufficient.( As you say France has great land for growing and plenty of it)

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  14. The wheat in our state feeds the world and yet, the richest, most fertile soil in our state is being snapped up by developers. More housing additions, shopping malls and crap like that. I've even read that the younger investors are pulling their money out of stock markets to invest in land. They know it's not being made anymore, unless you live in Iceland or Hawaii perhaps.

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