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Fab article in Huffington Post on our little place: Is This the Coolest Place to Stay in Southwest France?

With thanks to:

Click here to read directly on the Huffington Post site

Op Scheppen! Een nieuw boek van Sandra komt er aan

Sandra in de tuin

“Maar wat voor mest wil je dan?” Vraagt Monsieur de la Noix nu iets dringender. Ik geloof dat hij begint te vermoeden dat we echt niet zo slim zijn als onze bemodderde regenlaarzen en oude spijkerbroek doen vermoeden. Santi en ik kijken naar onze tenen en wiebelen heen en weer “Uhhhh, het is voor onze groentetuin om groente te verbouwen,” mompel ik deze keer om Santi wat bijstand te verlenen. Monsieur de la Noix heeft eindelijk begrepen dat hij het zo eenvoudig mogelijk moet maken voor ons en bromt ons een multiple choice test toe. “Wil je oude mest, nieuwe, medium oude, wil je er stro in hebben? Wil je je grond verbeteren of de productie juist verhogen?”Landbouwgronden zijn uitgeput, zoetwaterbronnen raken leeg en varkens krijgen betonnen flats toegewezen. Kunnen we onze boodschappen uit de supermarkt nog wel vertrouwen? In een stiekeme hoek ligt de voedselmaffia er op de loer die reguliere cornflakes in gekopieerde dozen met biologische labels verpakt. Daar verdienen ze meer mee dan met de cocaïnehandel, laten ze weten.

Zaaigoed

In Boeddhistisch klooster Plum Village waar Sandra en Santi non en monnik waren leerden ze over mindfulness en konden ze urenlang stil zitten in meditatie. Nu wonen ze op hun boerderij in Zuidwest Frankrijk en hebben ze hun pijen verruilt voor een tuinbroek. De glamping die ze hebben opgestart loopt inmiddels op rolletjes en ze verleggen hun blik naar het terrein van 5 hectare die bij de boerderij hoort. Sandra en Santi ontdekken een regenererende manier van tuinieren en stappen op het karrespoor van leren boeren volgens de principes van permacultuur. Hun tuin “Simply Permaculture” is inmiddels een non-profit organisatie die permacultuur in actie laat zien middels demonstratieprojecten op een terrein van 5 hectare. En wat blijkt? Zo ver ligt tuinieren niet af van een mindful leven in het klooster, het is ook heilzaam voor jezelf en de wereld. Je wordt er alleen wat viezer van.

Op Scheppen

Zijn de meeste boeken op het gebied van permacultuur vaak wat droog en theoretisch, Op Scheppen is doorspekt met ervaring over verschillende uitgeprobeerde permacultuur technieken en staat vol humoristische verhalen over Sandra en Santi’s ervaringen als beginnende boeren. Een stukje permacultuur theorie komt aan de beurt samen met het hoe en wat van het aanpakken van diverse permacultuurprojecten aangelengd met hier en daar een lekker recept van eigen bodem. Een stukje bewustwording wordt aangereikt wanneer je meegenomen wordt via een maaltijdsalade en rijst naar de landen waar de producten verbouwd worden en onder welke omstandigheden. Een klein stukje mindfulness komt aan de beurt via een geleide meditatie en een oefening van diep kijken. We zakken op onze knieën om de grond eens van dichtbij te bekijken. We ontdekken het wereldbelang van de wriemelende wormen en ontmoeten een heuse neushoornkever. Vooral gaat het boek over de lol van het buitenspelen, technieken uitproberen, vol nieuwsgierigheid nieuwe vaardigheden leren, ervaringen en miskleunen delen, het intense genoegen van de smaak van vlees en groenten van eigen bodem en de liefde voor de natuur die als een spinnenweb alle elementen met elkaar verbindt.

Voorjaar 2018 kun je je bord bij houden om Op te Scheppen!

Simply Canvas season 2016

It is here, we can enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling when looking back on season 2016 at Simply Canvas and Permaculture.

An overview of the Garden of Simply Permaculture 2015

Overview of season 2015 for glamping Simply Canvas

So did we enjoy the locavore experiment?

It has been really interesting. Ha, that nearly sounds what you would say about a gift you received but are not quite sure of. I guess it is just about the right description. It has been really interesting.

We have been trying for a while now to go more and more local and we have made steps in that direction; we raise our own pigs, ducks and chickens, our veggie garden is finally of a nice size and produces a good amount of vegetables, we have a producing orchard, this experiment did bring us more awareness in to a.o. the following:

·    It gives slow food a different meaning. Not so much to cook your food slowly, but that there is so much more long term preparation involved. I mean, it takes time to make your own bouillon cubes. There is much more seasonal work involved in drying your herbs and making your own mixes, preserving your veg and gosh, I don’t know what you would do without a freezer.
·    We also ran to the shop and bought tons more preserving jars. Jam is not necessary the way to go. We want to have the best sugar possible, and this is of course coming from some tropical destination. So preserving is the way to go and with as much variety as possible. No pizza without tomato sauce, cool salsa’s from tomatillo’s which grew newly in our garden this year, still kilos of apples to peel for apple sauce…
·    We better start liking some of those winter veg and find out other recipes so that all those root vegetables finally get somewhat of an appeal to us. So far they haven’t really done that yet. Send us some recipes!
·    We soooooo missed spices and food without pepper is difficult to get used to. Then face it as well, it is tough to ask an Asian to abandon his rice and spices, but also for me as a whity who really appreciates Asian cuisine, going without spices really bored me. It was a big revelation to notice that I missed spices more than sweets and chocolate, because they were easily replaced by bread and honey.
·    The thing we didn’t enjoy so much about being locavore is that we hardly eat and drink any dairy products and enjoy eating gluten moderately in our daily lives. Santi is lactose intolerant and my system is not too fond of it either, unless it is in small proportions. This week no rice milk, no soya crème and no rice or other far away grains. So it was changing between pasta, potatoes (not my favourite)  and rice and a lot more bread, plus we compensated with dairy products (more cheese, more butter and crème instead of the far away alternatives. Even though the milk products were just fab coming from Mme Morabito’s grass fed cows and lovely organic home made bread from M Chateliers flour, our bodies seem to enjoy better with less in those directions.

We celebrated our first non locavore day with a lovely Thai curry, of course with a farmer’s chicken and veg from the garden, but with coconut, spices and the lovely basmati rice grains. All in all a great experiment which we were also happy to leave behind again (let’s be honest), but it brought us to researching alternatives that we can grow here for i.e. pepper and ginger, but also to start expanding even more on different varieties of veg and herbs and fruits in the garden. And yahoo, we found out we can grow shiitakes in our backyard, the spawn is on its way as we speak, now let’s see if we can find some alternatives for coconut and mangos.

Going Locavore!

Being utterly inspired after our, recently finished, Permaculture Design Course, we have decided to go forward and experiment. We will become locavores for one week.

Wikipedia: A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market.

We hope to get some more awareness on how many products come from very far away and get some more creativity with what we can actually get from around the corner and from our garden. Come along!

Day 1 An utterly odd day

Breakfast:
Finishing some crackers

Lunch:
Fried eggs from our chickens, butter and cheese from a nearby farmer and bread from the local baker (with local flour)

Dinner:
Home made farmer’s chicken soup with veg and herbs from the garden with left over rice noodles from yesterday

We got kilos of green tomatoes and tomatillos from the garden and it is time to make our famous green tomato and ginger jam. Immediately I am realize that sugar cane comes from far away countries. How did we preserve in the days before sugar? Well there was the local sugar beet of course. I compensate with making sugarless salsa verde from the tomatillos that I sterilise, however I had to throw in some lemons for the good taste, they are probably not French. Well we are half in half out today anyway. We are finishing some last crackers and cookies and rice noodles, because we consider it doesn’t matter whether we eat them or the pigs.

Gill Chatelier, a close by organic farmer, where we always get our composted soil also has some oil and flour and since years I pass by. Rather shabby years ago, it is now a lovely little boutique and turns out to be a great discovery, which makes the locavore experiment already a success. Outside of the flour and oil, he has nice apple vinegar, I discover you can order great organic beef and veal packages, locally made pasta and organic bread and the best one; organic seeds for the chickens and ducks. We have been surfing all over the web to find good organic seeds and now it is here 4km from home and even cheaper than the non gmo seeds we have been buying so far!

The day is taking a strange turn. I break the lawn mower and tear up a cheque of €185 to us, while it should have been another one. Santi has already 3 weeks of toothache and is suddenly showing a big space between two teeth. The tab of the shower breaks and of course it is a multiple days project to fix it. We went to steal cardboard behind the big supermarket (which we use in the garden, but it ended up not being there) and brush against a big wild boar which came out of no where. He limped off in the woods. We are both completely out of spirit and decide we deserve a café mocha, while a new house guest, a mouse, is chewing on a bag of potato chips in the cupboard. Probably best to just go to bed.

Discover our region

Saint Jean d eDuras is a tiny little village with 250 inhabitants spread over around 5km2 on the border of the Lot et Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde departments. It belongs to the Aquitaine region of South West France and is only half an hour away from Bergerac.

If you love to go out for walks, you can start straight from our property and walk into the field where you will be surrounded by vineyards, sunflower seeds and superb views. There is a chemin randonée starting right outside our property. The closest bakery is within cycling distance and there is a tiny supermarket 5 minutes away by car. The four larger and charming bastide villages; Eymet, Miramont, Duras and Ste Foy la Grande are all within 10-15 min. away. Here you find large super markets, great fêtes de villages, farmer’s markets, restaurants and shops.

Including the garden into our property

We first arrived on this property at the end of 2007 and there were only the 2 houses and the wooden barn. With only 6 months to build and get everything ready for our first tourist season, there was plenty for us to do. It has then taken us the following 3 years to find our way and our balance with very little time, space and energy to focus on the land.  For the longest time our wish was to replant a forest and bring more life back into the empty 4Ha field.

Watching a lot of documentaries during our spare time and in the low season, especially about nature, farming and food, it was only with shock, disgust and discouragement that we’ve discovered the greed, cruelty and sometimes madness pushing the food industry. Our first reaction was to stop consuming “bad” food and produce but as the list was getting longer and longer, we’ve both felt the need to act instead of just react and finally decided to dedicate more time, energy and most of our yearly savings to grow and produce our own food. While looking around and searching, we’ve dived into organic gardening and Permaculture as source of inspiration. After completing a PDC (Permaculture Design Course), we came up with tons of cool little projects and experiments that we have built throughout our land as well as a design for the coming 2, 5 and 10 years in order to turn the 4Ha field into a self-sufficient food forest. We never expected the amount of energy, fun and inspiration it has given us. We are happy to share this with you.
Sandra & Santi

Simply Bed & Breakfast, St. Jean de Duras, South West France

Tentes Safari | Maison de Vacances | Chambre d’hôtes

Venez séjourner dans nos charmantes tentes de safari avec leurs propres salles de bain, chambre d’hôtes ou maison de vacances ou en Lot et Garonne, proche de Bergerac, à la campagne sur un terrain de 5 hectares avec magnifique vue et piscine.

Sandra & Santi: Bonac, 47120, Saint Jean de Duras
I: www.simplycanvas.eu
E: hello @ simplycanvas.eu
T:+33 (0) 681768594
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