In addition to the numerous open-air and covered markets in Paris, some of which date back to over 400 years, a new wave of markets are sprouting up around the city. These markets embrace supporting local farmers and putting consumers in direct contact with the people who grow their food.
One of these unique approaches to markets is La Ruche Qui Dit Oui which counts on farmers to bring their products to the point of sale themselves. Designated sites known as Ruches, or beehives, are scattered across the city (and country). Farmers and consumers come together at these rendez-vous points to pick up locally and naturally grown products that they have ordered online up to 3 days prior.
A compelling mixture of both market and farm share, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui allows shoppers to pre-pay and pre-select their purchases, while maintaining direct contact with the producer.
Even though I live in the 18th, I often visit La Ruche in the 10th arrondissement in part because I love the Comptoir Général, where the vendors meet on Saturday afternoons, but mainly because of Picardie farmer Nicolas Thirard who was a steady source of kale a few months back.
I first visited Nicolas with Kristen from The Kale Project and kept going back to for more overthe following weeks, adding his beautiful betterave chiogga, panais, pimpernel and pommes to my shopping bag as the kale supply dwindled away.
I looked forward to the new discoveries that Nicolas varied harvest brought and that is why I was so sad to hear that tragedy had befallen his farm. Located an hour and a half North of Paris, the Omignon Valley is home to Nicolas' organic farm and the region was hit particularly hard by the recent strong winds and snow storms that occurred recently in Northern France.
Heavy snowfall ravaged one of Nicolas' three greenhouses and exposed his lettuce, pimpernel and roquette crop to freezing temperatures, destroying the fragile plants. You can see heartbreaking photos of the "coup de blizzard" here.
Luckily, the Thirard farm has some root cellar vegetables stowed away in a cold room and can also count on their conserved products such as soups, purées, and ratatouille for income, but this is nonetheless a staggering financial blow to a small farm.
In response to this unfortunate incident, I encourage you to come out and support Nicolas Thirard, who will be present and next week's Ruche rendez-vous (Saturday, March 23) in the 10th arrondissement. You can support this local farmer by enrolling in La Ruche Qui Dit Oui and pre-ordering vegetables for a Saturday pick-up.
If you are already enrolled in a Ruche, check to see if Nicolas' products are sold there. Apparently he is present in a few different Ruches in France, but the website does not allow for a sweeping search of all the different Ruches and vendors. If Nicolas will be at a Ruche near you, please let me know and I will add that information to a shared list.