Our farm is located in the Pays de Bray, on the border between Normandy and Picardy. The climate is conducive to grazing cows. The grass is rich and abundant and the terrain does not allow farmers to develop field crops. The vast majority of farms are dedicated to cattle farming and dairy production because the clay soil and frequent rainfall promote grass growth. The Pays de Bray has always been very rural. Historically, it consisted only of small farms that all produced cheeses, cream and butter.
We installed a borehole 7 years ago, which allows us to draw water to supply the farm, and it also permits us to reduce expenses. Wheat, barley, maize and alfalfa crops are naturally irrigated by relatively frequent rains in the region. The use of plant protection products is restricted to a minimum, i.e. the products are used only for external aggressions by pests or climatic hazards, therefore only when necessary and not systematically as in conventional agriculture. We are also increasingly moving towards natural methods for caring for animals (essential oils, probiotics, etc.). All our pastures are surrounded by hedges. They preserve biodiversity, provide comfort for cows (windbreaks, shade) and prevent flooding. We have just built a building that will allow a better storage of the grain and the objective over the coming years is to enlarge the cultivated area to have total food autonomy.
We are the 7th generation in the Neufchâtel family. The first traces date back to 1850! During the Second World War, the cheeses were requisitioned by the Germans, so it was my great-grandmother, at the age of just six, who would travel the countryside to sell the farm cheeses "underground" to the people of the region. Our parents took over the farm in 1979 and I - along with my 3 siblings - took over in 2018. Simon takes care of the herd and the crops with the help of an employee, Pierre and Caroline are involved in the manufacture and sale of the cheese on the farm with 5 employees and Hugues, the fourth brother, takes care of the deliveries. Continuing the family tradition is a daily leitmotif for us.
The organisation of the work is established in such a way that everyone has at least one day off per week, which is not easy on farms. Milking the cows takes place morning and evening every day of the year and the milk is processed 365 days of the year. The employees all live within a 8 km radius of the cheese dairy, which promotes local employment. The oldest of them has been here for 26 years.
There's no waste of cheese. Unsold items are stored and refined for more than one year. They are a treat for local consumers who love their cheese very, very well matured! Indeed, nothing is wasted, everything is transformed! Whey (residue from the draining of cheese) is given to a pig farm. Hedge cuttings are used as firewood and wheat straw is used as litter for animals. Manure is spread for good soil fertilisation.