Limousin birch sap
Why the Haute-Vienne and how long have you lived here?
The Haute-Vienne is my département. Born in Saint-Léonard de Noblat, I grew up on a farm. I left the area to attend university, but with the motivation and desire to return and concentrate on my region.
Can you talk us through your profession?
I'm a birch syrup producer. That means that I harvest Organic birch sap on the Plateau de Millevaches around Eymoutiers. This is registered as a career reorientation devoted to agriculture and tourism.
What you like most in your profession?
This profession allows me to be in contact with nature and people. Bringing them this wellness cure means I meet people that are wonderful, open, sensitive and interesting and with whom I easily create links.
How is your profession specific, particular, unusual or original?
Birch sap is new in France unlike in Scandinavian countries or Canada. I'm one of only a few harvesters in France. It an unusual and specific activity, but not particularly innovative as it was commonly used a medicinal plant in ancestral, folk practices.
Who is your favourite local person?
Edmond PUYRAUD, gardener and creator of the Puy des Roches eco-garden in Cheissoux and he was awarded the Nicolas HULOT prize. He strengthened my desire to work closely with nature and the environment.
What is your favourite village? Why?
Saint-Léonard de Noblat, where I was born and whose remarkable heritage gave me the desire to work promoting my region.
Where is your lake, pond, river or corner of nature that you like best?
Close to the "Tard" River above the Moulin du Got (paper mill) in Saint-Léonard de Noblat, surrounded by unspoiled nature where dragonflies frolic and the river forms a small, sandy beach where one can refresh oneself during hot days.
If you were a substance, which would you be (wood, leather, porcelain, clay…)? And why?
Wood is a noble material, warm and alive. I hope that soon I can welcome guests in a place totally in wood thanks to my husband's know-how. He's a craftsman in constructing in wood.
What sports, leisure activities or relaxation activity do you prefer? Where? Solo, with family or friends?
I love agreeable moments with friends or family during a meal made from quality, local products. I also love treating myself to relaxing breaks: massage, Jacuzzi… And also exploratory, countryside outings.
You love local food; which is the recipe that you know well all of sharing with those close to you?
It could be considered unusual but I love tagine and I prepare it in a Limousin way with more local products: lamb, farm chicken, locally produced honey and seasonal fruit.
What's your favourite season in the Haute-Vienne ?
Spring, when nature wakes up: the first flowers, the burgeoning of the delicate, green leaves, the trilling of the birds… and of course, because it's the arrival of the birch sap. But also autumn for its warm colours.
With regard to new technology are you rather: switched off, equipped (smartphone, tablet computer, computer) or a geek?
Equipped with a smart phone, but use it reasonably!
An anecdote regarding your profession?
The profession's name is anecdotal. In French, someone who harvests birch sap is called a "bétuliculteur" or "bétulicultrice". The name comes from the Latin "Betula", which means birch. So to conclude: "my birch sap and nature is in you".
Start of the harvest and tasting of the first birch sap on Thursday, 17 March 2016 on the Millevaches plateau.