Excellent article on our gîte by Solène Pinhoat in Bleu Tomate: “Paradise hidden in the Kingdom of a Provencal Forest”

Solène exactly captures the essence of what we are trying to do, and what it is like to come here from the hurly burly of daily life in towns and cities… and then go back again.  She was asked to write this piece by the Parc National Régional de la Sainte Baume, which awarded our gîte their very first Valeurs Parc award for excellence. Here is the link to the article in French followed by this translation in English: Paradise hidden in the kingdom of a Provençal forest Géraldine and Mark Whitcombe-Power welcome all those who love Nature – but specifically those who have not had the good fortune to experience it – at their Domaine des Escavalins where they produce Extra Virgin olive oil. In fact, they are the first ever to be nominated best « Value of the Park » in the National and Regional Park of the Massif de Sainte-Baume, the mountains between Aix-en-Provence, Toulon and Brignoles. Go there and you will be immersed in the heart of the Var forest.  « To live happily, stay hidden », said Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755 – 94) in his poem Le Grillon, and Géraldine et Mark Whitcombe-Power do exactly that, except that the good news is they are prepared to share their home with those who want to experience a moment of great detachment from the world in their secret garden.  The adventure begins on the track. After some narrow streets and tight corners in the charming little village of Belgentier, the tarmac ends. Forget your GPS.  Dare to take a forest track, be confident in yourself… and put your faith in the...

Ram prettied up for his Ewes

Django the ram receiving important cosmetic attention before being introduced to our ewes, clipping his feet and covering his stomach with orange die which will, in theory at any rate, tell us the ewes he covers. He has spent a week in the permanent enclosure watching the ewes in their park on the other side of the track, so we hope he is keen as...

“Food in Sud” exhibition in Marseille

We took a stand at the Exhibition « Food in Sud » in Marseille where we were able to introduce our Vierge Extra Bio olive oil to a large number of chefs and they used our oil in their demonstrations and competitions, which they call “battles”. We especially appreciated the support given us by Gaël Soler, Président National of Gargantua, an organisation which runs competitions between French chefs all over France, and who used our oil in the chefs’ Regional Final. See the article on us in your favourite magazine « l’Agriculteur Provençal » in their edition of Friday 12 February...

Happy New Year 2016!

At the end of 2015 we installed our new olive mill which sets us up for this New Year’s season and harvest. Happy New Year to you all!

Olive Harvest 2015

We were lucky with the weather during this harvest, but there was never enough time in the day between learning how to use our new mill and the race to pick all our olives before the wild boar ate them.  The problem was that the oak trees failed to produce acorns this year so the pigs took to eating olives, something the locals say has never happened before. Well, they did this year, ripping branches off our trees; nearly 200 were badly...

Delivery & Installation of our new mill

Our new olive press came from the OMT S.p.a factory in Florence. We just got it installed in time for our harvest – though actually a few days later than we would have preferred from the point of view of the best time to pick the olives, and do that before the wild pigs ate our olives. But there was a huge amount of work to do in the hangar and workshop to get it ready to receive the...

Gym

Works continue on, or rather inside, the agricultural barn but we have now finished our new gym. It’s a small “Salle de Sport” but has some excellent top quality professional Technogym fitness equipment, for us and for our gîte guests. Ideal after a long day working among the olives, or by the...

Clay powder to produce organic olive oil

A lot of producers have very few olives this season, the second bad year in a row which will make life very hard for some, and we heard that this is probably due to two or three weeks of very hot weather during the flowering period which roasted the small olive flowers before they could set to fruit. And it’s true we have very few olives on our Aglandau trees, but fortunately different varieties flower at different times and later at higher altitude (we are at 300 metres ASL), and some of our trees are protected by the cliffs from the drying Mistral wind. So in fact it looks like we may have a decent harvest with our Bouteillans, Cayet Roux and Brun varieties, which we are busy protecting with an organic treatment of clay powder which distracts the olive fruit fly and stops her laying eggs in the fruit,  (see photos), which of course allows us to produce organic olive oil.                       Before the treatment of clay powder…           After the treatment…           And more in the area we call the Feu Bas…...

Beekeeping! Checking for new queens…

Spring is a fantastic time of year, even though it is a little cooler than normal and the bees are frantically busy collecting pollen. Gerry felt she had to see what was happening in the hives, and found the Provençal bees, so-called because they are quite mild and laid back, had pretty much filled all but one frame in their hive, and the Formula One bees, so-called because they are very energetic and rather aggressive, had filled everything. She put some more half frames on top of the Formula Ones and stepped back! She also found that the frames were temptingly heavy with...

Spring flowers around Provençal cabanon

After a really grim winter when it rained like in Wales all December, January and February, this spring is turning out to be lovely weather, not as warm as it could be but it’s wonderfully sunny and clear. Here the purple flowers are on the Judas Tree (Cercis Siliquastrum). Bees love these...