Back in November, I spent four days with a production team from Austin, LA and Paris to film a mini-documentary about The Kale Project for Dark Rye Online Magazine. Dark Rye, funded by Whole Foods Market, does seasonal stories about food, health, sustainability, design and social enterprise. I was extremely honored to have The Kale Project be chosen for their spring “Revival” issue.
As a former theatre person, I’ve never been camera shy but comfort in front of the lens only goes so far when you’re asked to dance with kale in the middle of Parisian streets or take action shots with kale at Trocadero. I kept reminding myself that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and to just enjoy it. The production team was incredible and we had a blast over the four days of filming. We hit up the Marché Batignolles, The Superfoods Café to make a few recipes, the streets of Paris and met up with Bruno Verjus at his restaurant Table to talk to him more about how he cooks with chou d’aigrette (another one of the beautiful names for kale in French!)
For me the most exciting part of the filming was our day excursion to Saint Malo to meet up with Kale Project Ambassador, Virginie and her AMAP (for readers in America, AMAP is the equivalent of Community Support Agriculture (CSA)) farmer, Anthony who farms in Saint Lunaire. Virginie first contacted me over a year ago with interest to work with Anthony to grow kale for her region. After a lot of back and forth, Anthony planted the seeds this past summer and the kale was ready just in time for the film.
I could not have been more excited to share this story with the team because it is how I always imagined the Project working out. I wanted to work with local, French farmers and then try to do more tastings and explanation at markets or AMAPs and that’s exactly what we did in Saint Lunaire. On a side note, this was also my first trip to Saint Malo and I can’t wait to return. Even with the cold, rainy, grey weather, the views and air were fantastic.
For those that live in the Saint Malo area and are interested in this AMAP, it was created in February 2009 and is 100% bio. Anthony is the sole farmer and provides almost 90 baskets of vegetables and fruit each week to members who come from Saint-Lunaire, Dinard, Saint-Briac and more towns in the surrounding area. Anthony’s farm, called “Saveurs des Champs”, spans about four hectares. He has one employee but also relies on help from the members of the AMAP who come pick potatoes, peas, plant zucchini or more. In fact his chou fields were behind Virginie’s house (talk about easy access to kale!) Each member of the AMAP also helps at distribution evenings, which take place under the covered market place of Saint-Lunaire across from the old 11th century church. And, in addition, Anthony has orchards and produces organic delicious apple juice. He hoped to have bees, but this has proven very difficult but he wants to keep trying.
Anthony does not stop with fruits and vegetables. He also has two traditional Brittany farming horses (Cheval de Trait Breton) which he is training to use in the fields, as well a vanishing breed of Brittany sheep (Moutons des Landes de Bretagne) which he is helping to bring back and sells for wool and meat. He sells his sheeps’ wool to a Brittany company that uses only wool from Brittany sheep. They make the clothes by hand and sell them in markets around the area. He also has a few Brittany goats (Chèvre des Fossés) to clear the brush from his fields.
To help with the sheep, Anthony uses a large guard dog from the Pyrenees (who lives with the sheep) and then a small sheep-herding dog also from the Pyrenees named Ilka. Ilka turned out to the star of the day, jumping around and devouring kale for the camera.
Everyone at the AMAP distribution was so friendly and excited to be a part of the film. And those coming to pick up their baskets were genuinely interested in learning about the lost cabbage and most of the responses to the kale chips were very positive. Honestly, my evening with everyone was by far one of my most memorable so far in France. I am so thankful to have worked with Virginie and Anthony and hope for more kale crops in the future.
To see the video click here.