Wild plant gatherer, a passionate profession

Cueillir plantes

In the calm of the woods and the back of the countryside, they work in silence so as not to disturb the birds. Without them, there would be no active ingredients in the creams, no wonderful scents in the care products, no Birch sap in our products.

We don't often think about them, but they are the origin of everything. Almost at the origin of the world insofar as the first men on Earth quickly understood that gathering was their main means of survival.

Wild plant gatherers are sometimes regarded as saints, sometimes as madmen. Does one make a living picking Mallow or Arnica? Do these women and men refuse the modern world? Are they not part of the originals that help save the planet?

Saeve would be nothing without the passionate work of Luc Jalenques. Our plant picker, who harvests the Birch sap and the organic Chaga from our Immunox® patent. Without him, there will be no miracle on your skin.

He is based in Aurillac, in the Cantal, where it is cold as he likes to remind us, in the Auvergne region of our Pauline, founder of the brand. Driven by family habits and traditions, it was she who sought out Luc. Saeve could not exist without her willing and able hands to recognise and harvest the treasures of nature.

Today we tell you about the job of wild plant gatherer, thanks to which Saeve can offer all her wonderful treatments.

1 - Plant gatherer with committed values

Perhaps because they are called "landless peasants" and are dependent on the random generosity of the soil... Perhaps because picking is a humble and delicate act... Perhaps because, over the years of practice, they see ecosystems change, and not always for the better...

Plant pickers are above all nature lovers. Their work colleagues are the trees, the birds, the bees... So how can we not develop the desire to promote the preservation of nature and biodiversity?

Wild plants harvest, dandelion fields


Currently, the profession is taught in agricultural schools. One learns all about plants and their uses. For some, the love of picking is passed on from generation to generation. You can see a grandmother picking St John's wort and a great-uncle who swore by hawthorn flowers... In spring, dandelion jelly is made. In August, lavender and lemon verbena are dried for infusions. In winter, one crunches rosehips, the fruit of the rose hip.

For others, the revelation comes from the fact that progress and urban modernity lead to a vital need to return to the land. But for all of them, it is another value that is put in place: that of inviting others to feed on living things and to vegetalise their lifestyle.

With the countryside as their only office, our pickers are true observers. Harvests vary according to climatic and environmental conditions. They observe, scrutinise, breathe and condition their outings according to the seasons, moons and rains. They are the greatest witnesses of the changes of our Century. They are the best sentinels of the ecology.

2 - Gatherer with ancestral gestures perpetuated

The work of the professional is not a Sunday stroll. There are rules to respect in order to practice sustainable and responsible picking.

First of all, respect for the environment in which we pick. It is imperative not to damage anything, not to tear up anything and to respect the peace and quiet of the area. Moreover, for a wild plant picker, even weeds have their uses. Animals, insects and birds live together with the plants. This symbiosis is the source of magic.

And it is for these very hosts that they avoid taking everything. It is unthinkable not to leave their share to the bees and to collect everything. The picker says that the walkers pick far too much, while a third of the shoot should remain in place. In Europe, depending on the rarity of the plants, there are fortunately now quotas.

Becher quotas
You also need to know which varieties are edible, which parts of the plant contain the active ingredients and when they are most effective.

And then there is the gesture. Most harvests are done by hand with the palm, fingers or fingernails; sometimes you need a razor blade. The same safe and delicate gesture will be performed thousands of times with the sole aim of not damaging the plant. For the Sap, a little more equipment is needed: a chignole, a hose and an airtight bottle.

After harvesting, the leaves are sorted, removed and dried for several days. The sticky calendula flowers are laid flat on cotton cloth racks and the immortelle branches are dried upside down.

It is also necessary to know the edible varieties, the parts of the plant where the active principles are located and the period during which they are most effective.

And then there is the gesture. Most harvests are done by hand with the palm, fingers or fingernails; sometimes you need a razor blade. The same safe and delicate gesture will be performed thousands of times with the sole aim of not damaging the plant. For the Sap, a little more equipment is needed: a chignole, a hose and an airtight bottle.

After harvesting, the leaves are sorted, removed and dried for several days. The sticky calendula flowers lie flat on cotton racks and the immortelle branches dry upside down, spreading their spicy, liquor-like scent across the barn or roof of the house.

For some plants, there may be some processing: distillation, solarization, maturation or modification into tasting products.

3 - Gatherer to the gift of self and love

Choosing to live off wild plants means collecting or picking on sites far from any toxicity and human presence, far from polluted roads and intensive cultivation. This obviously means getting off the beaten track and going on long journeys and hikes. At first empty, the canvas bag becomes heavier and heavier carried on the shoulder.

Being a wild plant gatherer means getting up early to hit the trails, doing some driving, sometimes not sleeping at home or even sleeping on the road because you have to harvest in the morning before dawn. Even if it is in the open air, the body wears out in another way: backs bent in the wind, knees eroded, hands damaged by repetitive gestures or burnt by the active ingredients. Let's not forget the cold, the rain, the walking, the altitude. Let us also think of those periods when the plant is at its strongest and does not wait. Neither weekends nor holidays.

If the job of a picker were to be told to us, it would probably be with all its magical aspects: the calm, the open air, the steely mind, the inexhaustible herbal knowledge. But above all, it would be through the love of life and all the self-sacrifice he can show to make us benefit from it.

Isn't it said that in the field of the Universe, you gather what you sow?

The T[æ]m