This past summer I read an article on Modern Farmer about a woman documenting female farmers. Titled The Female Farmer Project, I started to follow the photographer Audra on social media excited to read more about her project and the women that continue to feed the world. It wasn’t much later that she posted on Facebook that she was having a hard time finding women farmers in France. I immediately jumped in offering to put her in touch with a few people. Enter Marion Sourdois. Marion wrote me last spring from her hydroponic farm in Nerac to let me know that she was starting to grow kale. We wrote back and forth and while I hoped to maybe one day visit her farm, the opportunity arose much earlier than I anticipated. It was set: Audra and her husband and two teenage kids would meet me at Marion’s house in mid-July; me to photograph kale and her to photograph Marion.
Raised in France, Marion moved to Argentina where she was working in a high-stress marketing job as was her husband Nico who is originally from Argentina. After a few years of dealing with the corporate world, they discovered hydroponic farming through their landlord. Mesmerized by the technique and feeling a pull from her homeland and a desire to live a simpler life (although by no means any easier, Marion and Nico work hard!), they decided to leave Argentina and settled near Condom, France. There was already a large greenhouse set up by a Dutch couple that Marion and Nico were able to use and convert into the hydroponic systems. I’ll be honest, the process is complicated and while Nico did a fine job explaining it to me and my comprehension skills were working that day, science things aren’t really my forte and now that I’m in my thirties, while I aim to be interested, I also lose interest pretty quickly in anything that gets really technical.
With just the experience they gained in Argentina, Marion and Nico started in November 2013. They wanted to grow unique varieties of plants and grow multiple types of fragrant basil, lemongrass, shizu, yuzu, peppers, tomatoes and now kale. It was actually Marion’s grandmother who saw an article in a French magazine about kale and The Kale Project that encouraged Marion to try this ancient chou.
Marion and Nico germinate the seeds and then replant them in small pots with rocks that then are placed in the hydroponic system consistently receiving treated water. While their operation is not technically organic, aside from the solutions needed for the water, they do not treat their plants with any pesticides. Another reason why Marion said she will spend time every day, going around to every kale leaf and removing any visitors.
In just a short amount of time and with a lot of hard work, Marion and Nico have built relationships with local restaurants and AMAPs. Even when I was visiting in the summer, they were already selling their kale to a local spot that was making kale chips for apéro. These relationships have only grown and kale definitely has a spot in the offerings of Les Sourciers.
Thank you to Marion and Nico for being such wonderful and gracious hosts!
Lagraluet du Gers
You can find their kale at in Toulouse & Bordeaux via com3pom.fr. Or contact them directly via their website. Marion speaks French, English and Spanish.