Woman in a land of immortelle cutting down immortelle flowers

Meet Pascale Chérubin

Immortelle Producer in Corsica, France

THE FIRST WOMAN TO CULTIVATE IMMORTELLE IN CORSICA

Cultivating immortelle with experience and expertise

Allow us to introduce Pascale Chérubin, the first woman to grow the vibrant yellow immortelle flowers. Today she has seven hectares in Corsica, cultivating the powerful seedlings.

After studying biology and graduating with a Masters in EcoBiology, fate brought Pascale to rugged, sun-soaked Corsica in 1994. While there, she fell in love with the iconic immortelle flowers that blanket the land in a carpet of yellow during the hottest months of the year.

Pascale has worked with L'OCCITANE since 2006, using organic farming methods to produce blooms that are later distilled into essential oils which infuse a selection of our rich anti-aging creams. This is the story of how destiny brought us together.

TRADING COSMOPOLITAN LIFE FOR ORGANIC FARMING

Land of yellow immortelle flowers and a woman hand grabing one
Born and raised in Marne, surrounded by rolling vineyards where grapes for Champagne flourish, Pascale went on to meet her husband in Paris. But it was when her husband was offered a new job that Pascale’s journey really began. It took her family from the boulevards of Paris to the flower-studded Corsican countryside where she discovered, and fell in love with, immortelle. She says that the “new location was a perfect match for us – countryside living in a stunning and preserved environment."

In Corsica, Pascale used her master's degree in Ecobiology and her experience as a schoolteacher to return to nature. She began by training future farmers on soil management and crop production and joined the CIVAM Bio Corse association to retrain farmers in organic growing methods.
Wild land of yellow immortelle flower with the sea at the back
Pascale saw that increasing demand in immortelle was endangering the wild Corsican ecosystem and that cultivating it herself would protect the land. She says:

"Distillers have been producing immortelle essential oil since the 1990s in Corsica but they used wildflowers. The farming of immortelle flowers put the break on overharvesting and was the start of a new industry on the island thanks to L’OCCITANE. This is why I wanted to grow Corsican immortelle flowers." 

Pascale says she was keen to practise what she preached, so she and her family began searching for their own farm.

PASCALE AND IMMORTELLE - A LOVE STORY

Woman putting her arm around immortelle flowers
Pascale's admiration for the beneficial and fragrant flower is based on its adaptability. "I like the immortelle flower because it is hardy but refined at the same time," she explains. "It is fragrant and produces a precious oil. It grows in extremely rough conditions but stays beautiful. I like this duo of resilience and beauty."

Pascale also celebrates how her love for the flower has become a significant part of her everyday existence. “Even if I don't work daily on my crops, my family and I live in the heart of our fields,”  she says. “The immortelle flower is in the rhythm of our lives and we live with it every day."
 

SOWING WILD SEEDS TO PROTECT THE LAND

Yellow immortelle flowers lying on a burlap
In 2006, CIVAM Bio introduced Pascale to L'OCCITANE. And in another twist of fate, she found the perfect farm at the same time. Pascale recalls how her farm started. "At the beginning, we were gathering wild seeds, sending them to the horticultural school in Romans-sur-Isère, France for germination and they would send us back seedlings we could plant," she says. "People out walking would wonder what we were growing in the middle of a stony field!" 

Today Pascale’s immortelle crops are nourished by natural rainwater and a little organic fertiliser. The flower is “perfectly suited to hot and dry weather conditions and the thin, stony Corsican soil."

THE RHYTHM OF THE FLOWERS AND FAMILY LIFE

Bed of yellow immortelles with the sun shining at the back
Today Pascale’s family home stands in the middle of the fields, surrounded by waves of bright yellow flowers. The rhythm of the farm follows the beat of her family life. Harvesting takes place during the last two weeks of June or early in July, just as high summer starts to paint the island in its bright light and the children are set free from school. It might sound idyllic, but this life is not without its real challenges, as Pascale says:

“Every year, there are new surprises. We face bad weather, mechanical problems and safety hazards. It can be very stressful."

Once harvested, Pascale whisks the flowers straight to her distiller friend Stephan Francisci on the same day. This is to avoid the flowers fermenting which can spoil the oil. They work closely as a team to ensure the highest quality.
 
Aerial view of a land of immortelle with a tractor harvesting

Working the land ready for harvest

After the harvest, the strong July sunshine bakes the ground hot and dry. The immortelle plants go dormant, awakening only when the first drops of autumn rain refresh the soil. Every three weeks during autumn and spring, Pascale works the unforgiving land, removing the weeds with her tractor.

Just under a month before harvest, Pascale and her neighbours fit the harvester to her tractor so that she's ready when the time is right. This is a precise process: "Too early and the plant hasn’t had enough time to produce the optimum amount of oil, too late and the wind and heat dry it and the oil yield drops sharply."

BUILDING A FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP

Enlighted land of yellow immortelle flower  with trees athe the back
In 2006, at the time Pascale and L’OCCITANE became acquainted, farming immortelle – rather than picking the flower in the wild – was relatively new to everyone on Corsica. With the support of L’OCCITANE, lavender-growing methods were used to pioneer this new style of farming.

Both L’OCCITANE and Pascale have continued to reap the rewards of their partnership ever since. L’OCCITANE has a dedicated immortelle grower to provide us with this powerful ingredient and Pascale has L’OCCITANE’s constant support through the good times and bad – such as when a fire damaged her farm and land. By working with L’OCCITANE, Pascale can continue doing what she truly loves – cultivating the precious immortelle flower.

Products inspired by the Immortelle flower