The team went back to high school today as we visited Lycee Pro Agricole of Coucy-la-Ville for our first filming stop of the day. The curriculum is vastly different than what American students are normally used to. At Lycee, the students take specialized courses that pertain to agriculture and animals.
The school’s population consists of 180 total students. Within the grounds is a residential dorm building, where 70% of the students reside. Headmaster Nicolas Groscaux gave an informative presentation to the crew upon our arrival. Headmaster Grosaux noted that the students partake in regular regional civic engagement. A large part of giving back to their local community is expressed through the food that is cultivated on the grounds.
The Lycee farm is all organic and is where the high schoolers learn about the growing process, harvest, and marketing experience. From May to whenever the fall season draws to a close, the institution owns and operates a marketplace where locals can purchase the student’s hard work. Aside from crops, the school also maintains a thriving bee population. The Lycee bee colony produces natural raw honey that students jar up to sell.
PaceDocs ended their school day by sharing a meal with a group of students. The atmosphere was filled with laughter as the opposite cultures converged and learned about one another. Favorite music, movies, and other media were shared as the students dug into their lunches. The team bid a bittersweet goodbye to their new foreign friends and headed off to the next location.
Among the winding narrow roads and cozy villages of Laon, Saint-Mard is a breath of fresh air with its spacious landscape and beautiful farmland views. The space poses as a market gardener for local vendors. Saint-Mard has three large greenhouses that a variety of vegetation occupies. The farmers distribute the greens to local restaurants and markets only across the Laon region.
One of the farmers gave a brief tour of the green aisles, noting the differences in each plant. Greens such as Batavia, Feuille de Chene, Solanova, Argula, and Moutarde develop in the warmth of the greenhouse and can be utilized in dishes like spring salads. By remaining a local organization, Saint-Mard can deliver extremely high-quality products that are fresh, clean, and organic.
Before boarding the bus once again, the generous farmers at Saint-Mard offered the team a quick meal before we left. Pots of piping hot pumpkin soup and celery and onion soup were brought outside along with cups for the crew. Though the soups contained less than five ingredients, they were bursting with flavor and gave the team that extra boost of energy to finish their day.
Prior to dinner being served back at the hotel, the crew had the opportunity to conduct one last interview for day three. Pace alum, Julia Debaere, is a Laon native and graduated from the Pleasantville campus in 2019. Debaere spent seven years in the United States, working as a nanny and then as a full-time Pace student.
She expressed to the team that one of her biggest shocks when living in America was their produce. The fruits are displayed so bright and “perfect looking” on grocery store shelves, however, the flavor and quality are lacking. In France, there is no in-between processing stage for food. The products go straight from the farm or market to the consumer’s table.
Debaere’s fondest memories are found in food. She spent her life growing up in her family’s kitchen and continues to cook for her elderly mother. Though her grandmother has since passed on, her memory lives within the recipes that Debaere uses.
“Food is love”, Debaere simply states. She notes that it is about taking the time to show someone that you care for them.
As the team ate our dinner while laughing and sharing stories about the day’s happenings, we recognized that food is a time to spend with those around us and to be appreciative.
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Happy 21st birthday to our media queen, Cristina Figueroa!