Raphaëlle’s orchard, a green setting for exceptional fruit

The Isle of Beauty is famous for its breathtaking scenery, but it’s also renowned for the quality of its local produce. On the Côte Orientale, Le Verger de Raphaëlle is a small family-run fruit farm. Raphaëlle grows olive, fig and hazelnut trees, respecting the environment and its biodiversity.

After living and studying on the Continent, Raphaëlle, originally from Cervione, returned to Corsica around thirty years ago with a degree in agricultural engineering in her pocket. In 2001, she set up farming in Ghisonaccia alongside Francis, her husband and citrus grower. One of the pioneers of hazelnut growing, she renovated an old abandoned hazelnut grove and also planted olive and fig orchards. When Francis died in 2004, she took over the farm on her own, developing the value of the fruit by transforming it into oils, jams and other gourmet specialities that can be tasted in the farm’s small shop, which is a place to meet and share with visitors from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities.

In 2013, a fire ravaged the farm’s buildings, equipment and orchards, but it didn’t dampen her determination or her conviction, and the farm gradually rose from the ashes.

Today, the small farm is green again. The trees that have survived still bear the scars of the fire and have not regained their former production levels, but their fruit is transformed with great love and passion into a varied range of products that is constantly being enriched with new specialities.

At Le Verger de Raphaëlle, work is carried out on a human scale. Every stage in the production of our products, from orchard management to tasting, is meticulously cared for. The crops are grown extensively, with a minimum of chemical. The soil is enriched by eco-grazing carried out by the farm’s horses and donkeys. No chemical weedkillers are used, but weeds are managed exclusively by mechanical means, or even by hand. Once harvested, the fruit is processed by hand, in small batches. The figs, picked at the right moment, are carefully sorted one by one before being processed into jams or chutneys. Only the best go into the copper vat; the others are discarded and fed to the farm’s chickens. With a low proportion of sugar, the jams develop the full flavour of the figs, and go equally well with cheese, foie gras or a slice of good bread. Similarly, the hazelnuts are sorted by hand after breaking so that only the best are kept, guaranteeing the quality of the finished products (oil, flour, condiments, biscuits, spreads, etc.). Raphaëlle is always on the lookout for new ideas to delight her taste buds, and she always comes up with new recipes. This year, the emphasis is on hazelnut flour obtained during the extraction of the oil: the range has been enriched with two new delicacies: a sweet condiment and a fine wafer rolled into a cigar.

But hazelnut flour can be used in a multitude of ways, in both sweet and savoury versions. Official labels guarantee the quality of the farm’s products: IGP Noisette de Cervione, Nuciola di Cervioni, for the hazelnuts, and PDO Huile d’olive de Corse – Oliu di Corsica, for the olive oil. Raphaëlle has won several medals in regional and national competitions, and this year (May 2023) she was awarded the silver medal in the Harvested from the Tree category at the Regional Competition for Corsican PDO oils.

Raphaëlle is president of the Cervione A Nuciola hazelnut producers’ association which in 2010 launched its eponymous spread, the driving force behind the revival of the hazelnut industry in Corsica.

The orchard, which is committed to an eco-responsible approach, is part of the Ecotourism Network of the Plaine Orientale and is also listed on the Route des Sens Authentiques.

The three children are willing, cooperative and happy to take part in the farm’s many tasks. The eldest, Camille, has just graduated from the Ecole d’Agronomie Supagro in Montpellier. Now back on the family land, she is embarking on the long road to becoming a young farmer alongside Raphaëlle. Both mother and daughter have ideas and energy to spare. It’s time to get on with the projects that life’s accidents had relegated to “later” and open up to new prospects.

Le Verger de Raphaëlle

Raphaëlle Peignier-Astima

Casa Accinta 20240 Ghisonaccia

Tél. : 06 71 89 40 70 / 06 49 61 29 09

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