As our truffle business began to pick up steam it seemed logical to look at ways of expanding. Our current truffière is around 1 hectare, sufficient for around 400 trees when fully planted. There is enough space for around 70 more trees before it is completely full but after that we would be stuck. Sadly, despite owning 4 hectares of land, our farm lies on a geological divide - perfect limestone terrain above and useless clay below our house. As a result, we needed to start looking for more truffle land. One major problem was that we were also seeing a great deal of potential truffle land around us being gobbled up by neighbouring black diamond prospectors as soon as it hit the market, or in some cases, before it hit the market. Our thoughts turned to a plot of land, owned by our neighbour but which coincidentally is situated directly above and adjacent to our property. A beautiful limestone slope with terroir identical to that of our current truffle plantation. We took the approach of 'if you don't ask, you don't get'. We dropped a brief letter in our neighbour's post-box and hoped for a bite. Amazingly, there was little wait. The very next day we were approached by our neighbour who said that she was actually in the process of selling off a great deal of land belonging to her recently deceased mother. She said she was planning on asking us if we wanted the 'parcelles' of land just above our farm. She sent us in the direction of the local estate agent who was dealing with the various sales. We popped in, had a quick chat, he showed us the parcelles in question, said he'd reserve them for us and that was that. We would just have to wait for the Notaires to sort everything out and then the land would be ours. Incredible! Who would have thought it? In a country wrapped up in so much red tape that you usually have to fill in a form, duplicate it six times and get it stamped by three local officials just to go for a wee, our expectations were shattered - in a good way. So, just a little wait...
Well, three and half years later, the wait is finally over. Yes, three and a half years. Apparently, there was a lot of red tape, but then they ran out of red tape and had to order some more in, which unfortunately had its own associated delays. Thankfully, that tape eventually arrived and after countless communication everyone got so confused that the it was agreed that the sale should just go ahead anyway. Still, we can't complain, the process of the dividing up the land and selling it off apparently started back in 2015. Some others had been waiting far longer than us.
So, here is the perimeter of our land when we bought the property 6 years ago. You can actually clearly see the truffière situated in the top right of the land 'above' the buildings.
The following image shows the new boundary of our land. It was an additional 4 hectares of land which now means that our farm buildings are nicely surrounded. You'll see that a small parcel of land was not included in the sale as it is an existing truffière, around 12 years old and in production, and that piece of land was obviously not for sale. Shame!
This image shows just the current 1 hectare truffière.
And the next image shows the future truffière of around a further 2 hectares, taking the total amount of potential truffle land at Le Haut Repaire to around 3 hectares, enough for around 1200 trees. At this point it is worth mentioning that other than the fact there is a successful truffière 'inside' our newly acquired land, when we first visited the estate agent to look at the various parcelles, the word 'Truffe' was scrawled rather bluntly across the area highlighted below. A good omen to say the least! It was actually a big surprise that the asking price was not higher considering this and the fact that we know of several people on the look out for more potential land. Plus, a wonderful bonus, is that we also acquired 2 hectares of forest. With our house being completely heated by wood, including our hot water, it gives us the perfect opportunity to move ever closer to being self reliant.
With thanks to Heywood Beacon, here are a couple of drone videos taken several years back as the first trees were going in. Hopefully they give a better visualisation of the terrain including the newly acquired sections.
Finally, there is the question of how to buy the truffle trees in order to plant out a further 1000 or so trees. With each sapling costing around 20 - 30 euros, it would be a huge investment. The solution is simple: We must look to make our own. Make truffle trees? How can it be done? Well, that will have to wait for another post which we are still in the process of writing. But, in the final image below you can see the first holm oak truffle saplings we have attempted to inoculate. If our methods prove successful, we will be able to reduce the price of each tree down to around one euro each, potentially even less if we are able to use truffles that Duggy finds in order to inoculate the sterile seedlings. After all, Duggy has found several wild Black Diamonds on our land before and with a little more rain this summer it may be a very good year for truffles in the Périgord.