Espelida is a family farm established in June 2013. We are producers, gatherers and distillers of essential oils and floral waters and producers of organic natural plant products. We wish to develop our business to make professional products and today we are appealing to you to help finance the purchase of a much larger capacity copper still.
This project is primarily a way of living. We’ve created a job we love in line with our values: respect for the earth, nature (flora and fauna) and us humans. We are concerned about preserving and nurturing our environment so we try to live our lives with as small a footprint as possible. Eating organically, not wasting resources, and recycling everything we can, are gestures that are part of our everyday life.
This project is also able to meet the growing demand for natural, safe and quality products. Consumers want to know how these products are made and where they come from. That is one of our satisfactions: we do everything from start to finish, without buying or reselling, from the planting process through the harvest on the farm or picking in the wild. We can tell you the history of each of our products and guarantee its quality.
All our crops and harvests are certified organic and today, we are members of the Syndicat des SIMPLES, specialized in aromatic herbs and medicinal plants. Their strict regulations guarantee quality for consumers.
At the head of the project, there is me; Florence.
Since my childhood I have always lived in the country and have a deep attachment to rural areas. For me, working the land is a very rewarding job!
I have had this project in mind since my teens but I did not have the confidence to start it alone. What helped me get it going is Micah, my husband.
He encourages and supports me 100% in this project and invests in it heavily.
At the beginning he was a graphic designer, 2D animation and stop motion animator, nothing to do with farming! But now, he helps me, he discovered that farming includes a lot of handyman stuff, and that he loves!
Today, "my" project has turned into "our" project!
After several years of looking, we finally found a lease for some farmland in the municipality of Pommiers.
We consider ourselves primarily as farmers. We believe in the principle of small-scale production and cultivate aromatic and medicinal plants on a surface manageable without large machines. For now we cultivate approximately 1500m² of 6 different plants: Yarrow, Roman Chamomile, Basil, Peppermint, fennel and Italian Helichrysum. Some of these plants don't produce until after the second or third year of planting as with the Italian Helichrysum for example. Eventually, we would like to grow more varieties and cultivate 5000m².
We grow organically and whenever possible try to favour manual work over mechanical work in order to avoid disturbing the soil fauna and the benefits that it brings (biodiversity, soil fertility, aeration, etc. ...). We enrich our land with our own compost, manure from a local goat farm (we are in the country of Pélardon -a type of yummy goat's cheese), a homemade liquid manure made from nettles, mulch, green manure and other natural products.
A flowering meadow, which was used as green manure. And it attracted lots of insects!
At the same time, we experiment with permaculture, a cultivation method that inspires us greatly and corresponds with our way of life (more info found in the FAQ section below). The goal is to develop a technique that works for our farm and we hope to eventually use permaculture for the entire farm. Before that, we need to learn and understand more about the different sorts of raised planting beds like Hügelkultur for example. Last year was our first attempt at a raised bed, topped with manure, fresh fern and straw. It produced beautiful medicinal herbs and excellent vegetables (we couldn't possibly have a farm without a veggie garden!!). Unfortunately, this first experimental mound was washed away by major floods in September 2014.
This year we want to try another technique. Hügelkultur, This is what we started with:
All that's left to do is to put on a layer of straw and plant!
We supplement our varieties of plants with pickings from the wilderness mostly done in the Cévennes National Park and World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO. In general, picking sites are remote from contamination. We manage these sites carefully, seeking permission and taking care to always leave about 30% of the plants on the site in order to perpetuate the species and give them time to recover.
Landscape of the Cévennes, overlooking the Arre Valley.
The plants are distilled in the traditional way, in a copper still at low pressure and using water from a springe. The distillation time is different and specific to each plant. Some of them, like lavender for example, require only one hour of distillation while others can take up to four hours, sometimes more. It's extremely important to us to respect the process of a distillation to extract the quintessence of the plant and all the active molecules called "head", "heart" and "tail". Quality rather than quantity is our motto.
Spike lavender distillation.
This is our current still. It was a great help when we started but it has a small capacity, and is not very practical. We definitely need a bigger one! We plan to keep it for demonstrations at markets. We think it's beautiful!
The vast majority of the time, we sell directly to the customer, with the aim to have a personal exchange, answer questions and explain how our products are made. We sell at fairs, markets and a local farmers' shop in Le Vigan. We also sell on our website or in some health food stores but we will never use more than one intermediary.
You can find out more information on our website www.espelida.fr
For the latest news visit our facebook page.