France - Markus Schilder Photograph.
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Lavender - symbol of the south of France! It has always been there and always will be there to discover. Is it true?
France lavender regions have been fighting a bug over the last years. This butterfly spreads a disease throughout the lavender fields. Some say lavender fields might no longer exist within 20 years, if no major breakthrough against this bug will happen. A farmer from Remuzat told me, 10 years ago he had 20 ha of lavender fields. Extracting the essential oils is all about butt growth. And growth is equal to water and sunshine. A field in Remzat yields about 85 liters of essential essence per hectare - and farmers are not allowed to water fields due to water shortage. An other 1h30 down south lies the Valensole plateau. This very renown region of France spots some of the major lavender fields. Compared to France's Drome region, farmers there are allowed to water the fields. This abundance of water even in the midst of a drought allows the lavender to grow to full strength and thus butts can develop into fine sized 300 liters of essential oil leading flowers. The Drome region used to have lavender fields all about, but compared to 10 years ago, the amount of exploiting farmers is down from 50 to 10. The regions no more is a safe haven for lavender fields. Some farmers are trying to plant different varieties of lavender, but so far with limited success. The regions micro micro climates may be an advantage but overall farmers are struggling to make a living.
The farmer I met used to have 20 hectares of lavender. Pure lavender. Now, he has come down from 20 hectares of lavender to 2 hectares of lavender and 10 hectares of Lavendin, a different type of lavender. And he still hopes as everyone else, that science might find a why against this dangerous butterfly and its root eating habit before the show is over for France's lavender fields. Hopefully science will prevail and find a way around