PEAR, APPLE, PEACH AND PLUM TREES, VEGETABLES, HERBS AND MORE…
Created in 1697 and rearranged in the early 18th century, in line with the spirit of the Enlightenment, the kitchen garden and orchard at the Château de La Roche-Guyon lost its “French-style” layout after the Revolution.
From that point onwards, it was run in a very different way and, after the First World War, it was managed by the Bertheaumes, a family of independent market gardeners, up until the mid-1950s. It was then abandoned and forgotten for nearly half a century. In 2004, its 1741 design was restored. Its 3.8 hectares (38,000 m²) make it the second biggest kitchen garden in the Ile-de-France region, after the King’s Kitchen Garden in Versailles.
The kitchen garden and orchard are made up of 4 large squares, each containing 8 triangles, for a total of 32 plots around which 675 fruit trees – pear, apple, peach, plum and more – are cultivated, alongside vegetables and herbs. In 2011, the Ministry of Culture awarded them the title of “Remarkable Garden” (one of six to have earned the honour in the department).
In the interest of health and wellness, all synthetic chemicals stopped being used anywhere on the property beginning in 2007. The 100% natural growing methods earned the kitchen garden its organic farming certification in 2013, covering all of its produce.
This project has revived the original intention behind the experimental kitchen garden and orchard, which sought to acclimate plants imported from the Americas (like potatoes), whilst intermingling heritage, ecology and social roots. This ambitious goal is made possible by the work of the Château’s salaried gardeners, as well as a dozen or so employees from a professional integration initiative run by the non-profit organization ACR / Equalis.
The current aim is to create a kitchen garden ecosystem which is connected to the surrounding region and its inhabitants, based on five precepts:
- Tending to the land: The land as heritage
- Increasing the diversity of cultivated plants
- Welcoming and encouraging biodiversity
- Transmitting and sharing knowledge.