Fresh Facts Week 5:
How Farmers Get Going In France

By September 28, 2014Fresh Facts, Newsletter

So if you ever rent a Citroën in France, I’m going to save you a half hour. It’ll be a little diesel six-speed standard job that gets fifty m.p.g. and when you turn it off, the parking brake goes on automatically. Well, to get the parking brake off, there’s gotta be a button or lever or some sorta release mechanism somewhere right? Wrongo; we poked, pushed and pulled everything that looked like anything, but this thing ain’t leaving the parking garage.

It got so bad; I even tried to consult the owner’s manual, which no self-respecting man ever does if there’s any possible alternative, but it is better than walking the quarter mile back to the rental guy to ask: Hey buddy, how do you make that little thing go anyhow?

Now if you buy a car here, the owner’s manual’s the size of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue because it’s printed in Swahili, Mandarin, and Punjabi. Guess which language you can find in the glove box of a Citroën in France? You guessed it; French, the language universally spoken worldwide by anyone with entry level intelligence.

Bottom line is—which I figured out in only a half hour—there’s a little unmarked button under the red parking brake “ON” light that releases it if your foot’s on the brake; easy peezy, lemon squeezy!

Next, we’ve gotta get where we’re goin’ plugged into Le Navigation. I’m expecting under “tools” to be able to select English. No such luck because—all together now—anyone with entry level intelligence speaks French.

Whatcha need to know here is: only the parts of the address that start with capital letters are important. The le or d’ is just there to throw those of us lacking entry level intelligence off; it’s like linguistic Darwinism. The good news is, once you get it plugged in, you can turn the volume down on Faith, or Hope, or whatever you want to name the French lady who’s smugly telling you how to get there, and just follow the purple line through the roundabouts.

Now that you’re out in the peaceful French countryside, your next shock is going to be how the guy behind you can follow you through villages and roundabouts four inches off your tail and never touch it or feel like he’s imposing on your personal space.

But a farmer’s a farmer wherever he is and we got to meet some great ones. Just regular guys dealing with what weather and regulators throw at them. 2014 was our year without a winter; theirs was the year without a summer as Europe was cold in July we learned.

They have to direct compete with Spain which has two-thirds the labor cost, so they’re losing their stone fruit industry incrementally.

One surprise was the lack of organic stone fruit farmers, until I felt the humidity off the Mediterranean with no mountain range to wring it out. We visited two university/industry field stations that had unsuccessful organic trials running. I gave them both our protocol with the probiotics and timing. The senior researcher was very grateful, but it’s going to be tough.

You guys don’t know how fortunate we are organically to farm where we farm. As I’ve written before, the hardest part about organic fruit is the lack of synthetic fungicides. Knowing what I know, I’m positive I could do this in Yakima, but I’d be scared to death to try it in Atlanta, the decay pressure would eat your lunch.

The good news is, you can just put it in D and enjoy the ride.

Author Uncle Vern

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