The Los Penedès estate, located in the municipality of St. Hippolyte, is divided into two parts: the arboriculture part (fruit) and the market gardening part (vegetables).
The arboreal operation is established on 15 hectares of apricot trees, apple trees, almond trees and fig trees. We are multiplying the varieties produced, especially those of interest in organic farming. We plan to add two hectares of additional almond trees in order to mechanise the harvest in collaboration with another operator and one or two hectares of fig tree for 2023.
The farm on the market gardening side has 2000 m² of greenhouses and 3 hectares of open fields. We produce vegetables all year round. In the summer cultivation, we mainly have tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, courgettes and green beans. In the winter cultivation, broccoli is the dominant crop, and various cabbages, spinach, lettuce, some root vegetables, and other crops such as peas, snow peas, ginger turmeric, and edible flowers enrich our direct sales. It is important for us to have a wide variety of species, to have a rich crop rotation and thus avoid depleting our soils.
We grow seasonal products adapted to our terroir and mainly from so-called 'population' or non-hybridised varieties. To protect our crops, we apply natural plant manure based on horsetail, nettle, savory, comfrey, borage, nasturtium, wormwood or even tansy. This type of manure allows us to actively repel insects or certain diseases while strengthening the plant. We shelter and pamper our crop auxiliaries (insects that prey on our crop pests) by growing flowers and tobacco nearby, which serve as their winter host. We also breed, in synergy, Indian runner ducks, which feed exclusively on slugs that they mostly find in the greenhouses.
To reduce the use of organic fertiliser, we plant green manure or plant cover on our plots. Thanks to their presence and then their incorporation into the soil, they allow us to maintain the soil but also to preserve its life. Biodiversity has a large part to play in agricultural production, which is why we have planted various hedges all around the farm, which promotes its permanent establishment on our plots. We keep several hives in order to have optimal pollination but to feed the bees all year round, even in non-production periods, we sow flower meadows and rosemary.
We are committed to saving water. To do this, our entire irrigation system is a drip-style irrigation system. We redefine it regularly according to the climate and our crop needs. To align with our philosophy of limiting the use of plastic, we use biodegradable mulch, which allows us to maintain constant humidity despite the wind or the sun.
Our sensitivity to the environment also extends to energy supply. We have a greenhouse project surmounted by photovoltaic panels for a greener energy supply on the estate and enrich the diversity of our fruits and vegetables (rhubarb, red fruits, kiwis, citrus fruits, and even avocados).
Direct sales at the Los Penedès estate started in 2018 with partial openings, which became weekly in September 2021 at the request of customers. We respect our customers through transparency in the production of our products (the fields being close to the place of sale) but also through shared services and knowledge. We offer visits to the farm and are thus as transparent as possible about the origin of the products. We present fresh seasonal products, picked at maturity, which have a taste and nutritional quality in line with our values.
We train young people in apprenticeship contracts and internships, as well as wwoofers [Worldwide Opportunities in Organic Farming workers] to spread these values and transmit and share our knowledge.
My husband and I are on the farm with my father and two permanent staff, as well as interns and apprentices. They are distributed over the arboriculture or market gardening division as needed. Organic farming requires observation, methodology and rigour. Our employees are trained in the field based on the proverb: 'The pleasure of a job well done is a pleasure that never runs out'. We accompany them and train them to be as respectful as possible of the local flora and fauna (waste sorting, economic management of water and electricity, care of work tools). Our ability to listen to feedback means we can be sure that we have done our job well! This promotes permanent evolution based on ideas from each other.