Living the Vie Rustic – Sustainable Living in the French Style
The French long ago conceived of a stylish way to lead a sustainable life, whether by choice or necessity, and the tenets of that hold true today. Growing and raising one’s own food was essential. A small, but well-managed basse-cour, or barnyard, supplied eggs, milk, butter, cream, cheese, the occasional chicken or rooster, rabbits, guinea hens, and sometimes ducks as well .And, everyone fatted a cochon, or pig, to make the essential charcuterie, from jambon cru to sausages to provision the pantry.
A year –round potager, or vegetable garden, planted and harvested in season throughout the year supplied the family vegetables, and a kitchen orchard, le verger, was the source of fruits, nuts, and, in the south, olives and olive oil. Flowers were planted here and there, because beauty should be a part of life. Fruits and vegetables were harvested, some preserved with sugar or honey, others in wine or vinegar. Bread was baked with home-grown and ground grain, animals fed with home-grown hay, legumes, and grasses. Olives were pressed into oil, and was milk turned to butter or cheese. Throughout the year the seasons dominated the rhythm of activity and the food on the table.
I had the privilege of living in rural Provence at a time when people there lived the life I’ve described above, and I learned from it, not only the ways of growing a potager, making cheese, and gathering wild herbs, but the pleasures of doing so. I wrote about that time in my memoir, A Pig in Provence, sharing the stories and people. Today, I continue to live, as much as possible, the way I learned in Provence, living with the rhythm of the seasons in a sustainable way, cooking from my garden, gathering herbs, making jams and preserves, and in general, enjoying the small pleasures of each day.
My company, La Vie Rustic is dedicated to bringing the things I love to to anyone, anywhere, who wishes to practice a sustainable lifestyle producing and caring for their own food, even if only a small part of it. Many of La Vie Rustic’s products are produced on my small farm, and all are created here with the help of a small staff. Whenever possible, I have used local artisans to create the products, from the letterpress-printed seed packets to the handcrafted sickles.
Unlike long ago, we don’t need to be entirely sustainable. Instead, I do it, and hope many of you will as well, because of the pleasure and reward of growing and producing food for myself, and at the same time caring for a small part of the earth and its creatures in a sustainable, healthy, and generous way.
This is the beginning. Thank you for joining me, and a special thanks to the photographers who have provided photos for me, Sara Remington (www.sararemington.com), Nicole Sturzenberger (www.ladiesoftheladle.com), Kathryn Kleinman (www.kathrynkleinman.com)
Georgeanne Brennan, founder and owner, La Vie Rustic
To learn more about me, my work, and my books, please visit www.georgeannebrennan.com