Arugula flower, pakchoi flowers and a bunch of Kabu turnips. This is what makes a beautiful basket with products that we are not used to seeing. Please note this article may not be recommended for those who suffer from food neophobia, but if you want to get out of your comfort zone the “Conservatoire du Goût” in Florac is there to restore the credibility of forgotten vegetables and break the standardization of food.
It all started with Christophe Collini, a market gardener from Bretagne. Since 2012, he has never stopped wanting to gather the curious people, gourmets, biodiversity lovers, around this idea. For years he has searched around the world for seeds that would amaze people’s taste. He is experiencing on his farm in Saint-Péver nearly 3000 varieties and identifies with the expertise of chefs passionate about vegetables, more than 100 exceptional varieties. He then met Rachel Lagière, an agricultural engineer, on a farmers' market in 2015. She joined Christophe in 2016 to learn market gardening and implement the project. In September 2017 the organization was finally formalized in the form of a non profit organization, with the objective of becoming a cooperative when possible.
Unfortunately, Christophe did not see the project succeed, he died on February 11, 2018, leaving the seeds sown in the garden of each person who have crossed his path in recent years.
Today, it is therefore Rachel who pursues the missions of the Conservatoire du Goût, with the help of multiple partners and friends, market gardeners, chefs, seed producers, distributors, associations, research institutes ...
The purpose of the Conservatoire du goût? Rediscover exceptional varieties of fruit and vegetables from peasant seeds and support those who grow them.
What type of products do they select? Seeds with high taste value harvested all around the In 50 years our fruits and vegetables have lost more than 30% of their vitamins and nutrients. These seeds will then be distributed to peasants and amateur gardeners to train children and adults in respecting biodiversity and learning to enjoy their food.
The association’s first experimental micro-farm is located on 5000m2 plot of land rented by the City of Floirac. The vegetables are grown according to the principles of agroecology, biodynamics and permaculture. The “Conservatoire du Goût” distributes its products to around twenty chefs in Paris and Bordeaux and sells baskets of fruit and vegetables to consumers. Baskets can be ordered on through the website Cagette.net.
The “Conservatoire du Goût” also provides personalized support to producers on their varietal and production choices in order to ensure sustainable farming systems. It is also an opportunity for restaurants to benefit from advice on how to grow their own vegetable gardens as well as training courses or workshops for professionals and amateurs, around seeds and food taste.
The “Conservatoire du Goût” is today made up of a network of 6 vegetable farms, expanding the growth of exceptional fruits and vegetables. Around 30 volunteers are contributing to the farms. More than 3000 varieties are grown, including a selection of around 250 exceptional varieties ranging from the mini-squash "frangipane" to the flowers "blackcurrant sweets".
The “Conservatoire du Goût” is also selling 100% organic seeds to professionals and amateurs in France.
The Little Extra
The association is also participating in experiments on the effects of a diet based on vegetables from the “Conservatoire du Goût” on hospitalized patients.
Christophe Collini worked with the Bertrand Grébaut Parisian restaurant “Septime”, who own one Michelin star, and who won the prize for the best sustainable restaurant in the world (Sustainable Restaurant Award) in 2017.
The “Conservatoire du Goût” also works with the Regional Vegetable Conservatory of Aquitaine with the aim of safeguarding and enhancing the plant heritage of the Aquitaine region.
To know more, you can listen to Rachel talking to Kantine Magazine:
Written by Thomé Orenga, LFC volunteer - April 2020.
Last modification : 15 Apr 2020.
The Conservatory of Taste
The association's first experimental micro farm is located on 5000 m2 rented by the Floirac City Council on the Burthe estate. Grown according to the principles of agroecology, biodynamics and permaculture, the Conservatory of Taste distributes its products to around twenty chefs in Paris and Bordeaux and sells baskets of fruits and vegetables on its site.