​Indigo, the blue gold of the Luberon

​Indigo, the blue gold of the Luberon

250 varieties of plants with planted pigment properties

One hectare of the plant was planted this year. A unique experiment in France that could offer new outlets for farmers in the Luberon We have a natural indigo of Provencal and French production, in organic, of very high quality and with very powerful coloring power, explains Martine Grégoire, president of the association " Color Garance ".

Eleven years ago, the terraces of the chateau of Lauris were nothing but wasteland, wild grasses and bad dwarfs. Not all of them had the green hand in the handful of volunteers of the association "Couleur Garance" who passed by there, but enough passion to make a real garden of cocagne of the dye plant, now recognized by the "remarkable garden" label and has become a unique place in Europe.

Here grow quietly under the generous sun of the Luberon, 250 varieties with pigmentary properties. And among them, a treasure, reintroduced in Provence thanks to Michel Garcia, inexhaustible gardener of the association, to the airs of mad scientist: the persicaria to indigo, which produces blue, queen of colors.

Michel Garcia brought three plants from Japan before the first experiment, under the watchful eye of the engineers of the Regional Natural Park of Luberon and last year to plant 500 m² of persicary in a field among farmers of Mérindol. "Our idea was to reintroduce the persian in France," says Martine Grégoire, president of the association "Couleur Garance".

22,000 seedlings

A laboratory then looks at the first harvest and concludes with the very good quality of this indigo of Provence, with pigment concentration much more interesting than pastel, its rival on the palette of blues and reintroduced in the region of Toulouse. So "Color Garance" sees bigger and decides to plant one hectare this year, at an organic farmer in Vaugines.

And the result is up to all expectations since the 22,000 plants planted since April have already yielded two crops and 8 tons of leaves and allowed the realization of 180 kg of pigment paste! An upcoming harvest is already scheduled for September, while volunteers are already thinking about the many commercial opportunities offered by this new blue gold.

"We have a natural indigo of Provençal and French production, in organic, of very high quality and with very powerful coloring power, explains Martine Grégoire, these are sacred arguments! For now, if we want indigo natural, it must be brought from India or China with a random quality and an exorbitant transport cost. "

A brand would even be in the process of being deposited by the association laurisienne while companies of paintings in buildings, pigments for the plastic arts, cosmetics and textiles ogle on these plots of the Luberon where a new treasure grows.

15 000 € from the Occitane

"We have contacts with a paint manufacturer and l'Occitane with whom we have won a call for patronage of 15 000 euros to finance our research," explains Martine Grégoire. "I am hopeful that they want to put in soaps because the application of indigo in soap making is possible. "

In the field of cosmetics, the Avignon giant Naturex bought the pulp from the last harvest in order to conduct its experiments. But indigo has another strong point that might interest other industrialists. "At the extraction, the persicarian releases at the same time as the molecule indigotine, another molecule called indirubine which has the power to protect against the insects" notes Danielle Rozaire, secretary of the association.

The weevil also has all the assets to attract local farmers. "Our objective with the Park is to define a precise cultural mode that can be reproduced by other farmers," says Martine Grégoire, "the indigo culture can provide a supplementary culture for them, among others. as much as it grows very easily, that it is a resistant plant of which no predator is known. "

From the sun of the Luberon, the water of the Durance and the kindly gaze of the gardeners, what else? Provence