Opting for fruits and vegetables produced in France and grown at the rate of nature is a real commitment for the planet but also for your health. In Charente-Maritime, the arrival of winter marks the end of the harvest for the producers of kiwis , this small fruit full of vitamins which we love so much. Meeting with a kiwi farmer in the heart of Haute-Saintonge , one of the most authentic and best preserved territories of the Charente-Maritime.
The village and the Château de Meux
A few kilometers from Jonzac, in the heart of the Charente countryside, the silhouette of a castle stands on the horizon and announces our arrival in the small village of Meux . Peaceful atmosphere guaranteed! Yet just steps from the sumptuous monument of Renaissance architecture , activity is in full swing in the kiwi farm Patrice Soulat. It is the excitement of the end of harvest of its organic kiwis which spreads between October and the end of November. The month of consecration in a way, when the work of a whole year will finally be rewarded. In fact, Patrice harvests nearly 40 tons of organic kiwis every year in just one month! By hand , he picks his kiwis a little before maturity to extend their shelf life. The fruits can then be preserved throughout the winter without losing their organoleptic properties or their vitamin properties.
Welcome to the Meux kiwifruit farm
The 2019 harvest
In the middle of kiwis crates, we distinguish Patrice at work, busy sorting his kiwis and welcoming the many fans who come to buy direct sales on the farm . Proud to have obtained its certification of organic culture almost 6 years ago, Patrice presents us the characteristics of its kiwis and the taste qualities which make their success.
Patrice at work
Direct sales, the short circuit
Surrounded by their dark, fluffy skin, Patrice's organic kiwis, rich in flavor, are untreated. Their green flesh is lively, sweet and tart, juicy and delicately scented with aromas reminiscent of citrus fruits.
It is with enthusiasm that Patrice presents us his production: kiwis of all sizes and shapes. Patrice decided to turn the page of conventional agriculture to turn to organic in the early 1990s. By ensuring the biological integrity of products throughout the production, the values of the kiwi farmer were reflected in his ambitions: decrease its environmental impact, favoring a dynamic occupation of its agricultural plots and offering healthy kiwis and excellent quality to consumers . Bet won! He obtained the label "organic farming" in 1995. A great reward and the valorization of his work begun with his father in 1986.
We leave with our kilo of kiwis to savor
When he entered the world of work, his professional orientation was different: he raised pheasants on the family farm. With his father, he is interested in kiwis since 1985 and they decide together to plant some plots to exploit. It will be five long years before the trees bear their first fruits.
But by the way ... How does the kiwi grow? We follow Patrice on his plots to palliate our ignorance in the matter. To our great surprise, the kiwifruit is not the fruit of a tree, but of a vigorous liana : Actinidia .
Patrice's Actinidia orchard after harvest
A hardy climbing shrub!
Originally from China, this climbing shrub with deciduous foliage is sensitive to cold. In Charente Maritime and throughout the south-west, it enjoys a mild climate prolific with oceanic influence and the Gulf Stream.
Flowering occurs around May and June. Pollination is done thanks to the indispensable presence of bees . Each new branch of Actinidia lives for one season and produces fruit only once. These fruits develop during the beautiful season to be harvested in autumn. And yes, the kiwis that adorn fruit salads in the summer are necessarily imported from New Zealand after traveling nearly 20,000 km.
It's winter kiwi season! From November to May, choose to eat French kiwis. Rich in fiber , potassium , anti-oxidants, vitamin C and E , the kiwi is the only fruit that covers all the recommended vitamin intake for a day. To consume without moderation !
The kiwis of Patrice on sale in the supermarket corner. A commitment to local producers and consumers.
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Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Charente Maritime