Gathering: The core activity of the Sicarappam
Gathering wild plants is an ancestral activity, especially in the Massif Central area. It is an integral part of agriculture but was a secondary activity for many years linked to the running of family farms.
Gathering wild plants is the core activity of the Sicarappam which is the largest cooperative of professional gatherers in France. Created in 1987, the Cooperative started gathering gentian and progressed to gather a whole range of wild plants whose health benefits are well-known.
Nowadays, the Sicarappam gatherers travel throughout France and sometimes Europe to gather plants requested by customers. Whilst working, they preserve the environment and have expert knowledge in biodiversity and flora.
Gathering: towards greater professionalism
Over recent years the gathering of wild plants has become more and more professional.
The Sicarappam gatherers work to stringent specifications in order to best satisfy its customer needs.
They also work towards preserving biodiversity and maintaining their gathering sites so that harvests remain stable or even improve in the following years.
In so doing, the Cooperative and several of its gatherers have joined the “Association Française des Cueilleurs” (AFC – the French Association of Wild Plant Gatherers) that brings together professional wild plant gatherers from all over France.
An in-depth look at the AFC
This led to the creation of the AFC, “Association Française de Cueilleurs professionnels de plantes sauvages” (the French Association of Wild Plant Gatherers) in 2011, that brings together around 60 professional gatherers.
Various gathering techniques are used by members of the AFC, that are used locally, nationally and even internationally , for a variety of markets that range from retail to wholesale.
– To build up knowledge and know-how about professional plant gathering
– To draw up an Eco-Gatherer Charter and a good practice guide
– To strengthen cooperation between gatherers in order to better manage wild plant resources
– To work with training organizations to become a professional gatherer
– To encourage cooperation with relevant institutional bodies in order to develop good gathering practices and to contribute to securing recognition for the profession
– To collaborate on scientific research projects on how to ensure the sustainable use and management of natural plant resources. (AFC, 2014)
For further information, please consult the association’s website at: http://www.cueillettes-pro.org