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I'm running a course in South-West France...

For the fourth year, Fabrice and I are hosting a week of "Intensive English" for mature Agricultural students at the college where I work.

I'd like to invite anyone in here who can make it, for the 9th - 12 May 2006 (and who speaks English - no French is needed at all!) to come and help me keep the conversation flowing in English.

You can come for lunch or stay for dinner (they tend to sort of merge into each other....Very Happy) Wine is served to loosen the toungues and we are there to translate jokes and deep intellectual stuff. Shocked

Please PM me ASAP (sorry it's short notice)

Irene xxx

We've now got our full complement of English speakers! Smile

Thanks folks!

Irene x

Good luck with the week. What sort of work do you do at the college?

Thanks Treacodactyl,

For three years I taught English for agriculture and tourisme. But I felt it was a waste of time to teach outdoor skills to adults in a classrom, so I persuaded the college to let me run courses at our farm. Smile

So, for the past three years I've had groups here - and our objective is to help people who want to be in the countryside understand how they can make a living and let them see how we run our place.

Fabrice, my boyfriend works with me. At the moment we run just two residential "English weeks" and at the same time we take time out to show the students how to erect stock fencing, self-build using natural materials, manage agricultural buildings, look after animals (goats, sheep, pigs, chickens etc.), handle paperwork, grow and preserve food, use the internet. the basics of agricultural machinery machinery, green tourism, renewable energy...

It's great fun, and the students are happy, the college is happy and I actually get paid for doing something I love! Wink


That sounds interesting, I'd hope I'd be able to contribute in future years...

Not entirely sure if you run these courses during the winter months but I'd be happy to lay on a hedge-laying segment for students. As I mention above I'm not sure if there is any kind of a tradition of hedge laying in rural France, certainly here (in Poitou-Charente) the de-jour standard is for a farmers to simply buzz off the top with a mechanical flayer leaving a stunted tree, exposed stems and not much of a stock-proof hedge. It's also a little bit brutal looking!

If you have ecological/conservation minded students then it can be made to work and I'd love to spread the tradition a little.

All you need is a sharp axe, a froe, a bow-saw and a not inconsiderbale quantity of elbow grease. A sturdy potage at lunchtime also works wonders Smile

If you think this might work let me know! I'm afraid it's a winter-only deal as it relies on the hedges being more or less dormant. But, if you can muster up enough students/support I'm happy to donate a morning/afternoon - I don't think we're too far (79200)

- Adrian

Adrian if you register (or log in if already registered) up you'll be contactable.

tahir wrote:
Adrian if you register (or log in if already registered) up you'll be contactable.

Oh, I registed, I logged in (I think)... and yet still the posting interface for conspired to defeat me!

Trust me, I'm much more adept in the garden! Smile

- Adrian

Hi Adrian,

That's exactly the sort of thing we're looking for, and I'll have a think of how we can integrate it into a winter programme.

Unfortunately, folks were paid to rip out hedges here not so long ago. Crying or Very sad Now you can have the hedging plants free, but you need to do the planting yourself and the young hedges have to be protected while they grow with a good fence so people have just given up thinking about replacing hedging and forgotten how much it contributes to the countryside.

How long do the hedges have to be growing for before you can lay them, and what species is the best for a hedge?


How long do the hedges have to be growing for before you can lay them, and what species is the best for a hedge?

The key to sucessful laying is having a well established root system. I've found that if the main stem of the shurb/bush/tree is over about 40mm or so then it will lay sucessfully, the flipside though is that if the plant is too big then it can be quite a shock... I'd guess the ideal hedge to lay would be medium densely planted and about 2M-4M tall. The actually laying process looks harsh and you remove such a volume of the growing material from the plant that come spring time it all rockets off and provides a superb, low, dense stock proof hedge that will then be very thick and is easy to keep neat and tidy.

I've done the majority of the hedges surrounding my property here and they've all been very sucessful. Mindyou, doing it all by hand with just hand tools is hard work. I can sucessfully do about 18-20M in a day on my own... so my local French farming neighbors think I'm barking mad when they'd do that much in about three minutes with a flayer hanging off the back of a tractor.

As for varieties? Anything that will coppice will lay sucessfully... the only problem is with larger trees in a hedge.. where it may be appropriate to leave it alone.

There is a initiative here (Poitou Charente) to replant many hedges.. here's a link to a local community organisation that's involved in this work.

As for other guidance? I'd point you to the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers online books

This Hedging guide is excellent

Hope that help get you on the way

- Adrian

What's traditionally used for hedges in France?

Fences, dry stone walls, ditches.... it depends where you are. In the Rennes area we have raised mounds of earth between the fields which are planted with trees. It's called bocage, same as in Normandy. However here is the horrible habit of chopping all the side branches off the trees every winter for firewood so the treeline is very sad looking in winter with lots of straggly tall sparse trees. I really hate it.

I've seen them coppicing on the Normandy bocages, which is much nicer to look at.

Oh and to keep the cattle in - electric fencing!!

However must say that whilst in England recently I didn't see much in the way of laid hedgerow - just a lot that had been cut mechanically a la garden hedge. Sad

We have locally, plenty of blackthorn, some hawthorn, lots of little oaks, plenty of 'orme'.

Our hedges benenfit from:

    A couple of chardonnay vines (!)
    assorted ivy creepers

etc. etc. I personally favour plenty of diversity and most of it seems to be doing quite well despite what I suspect is decades of neglect. The effect of laying the hedge (which I did 6 months or so ago) has been to rejuvenate the thing substantially - it's greened up nicely, ahs deep lush growth all ove rit and it's opened up areas surrounding the hedge to substantial new light and growth.

I'd really like to have a go at this, but there are absolutely no hedges at all on our property but we've lots of blackthorn we raised a while ago which will be ready to transplant (thanks to the mini-digger) when we're ready.

We're also thinking of transplanting semi- mature brush from our woods with the mini-digger - which would mean that the new fencing we're doing wouldn't look so blooming bare and boring. I'd imagine you'de have to leave the roots to establish for a few years though, before you started dragging the poor plant sideways.

Right now, I'm really bogged down in exam stuff and I haven't got a lot of time to post, but I read the posts, thanks for the info. Smile

bellebouche wrote:
plenty of 'orme'.

What's that? And do they have a tradition of hedge laying?
Just Jane

Orme is Elm

Thanks Jane
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