Saint-Félix is a family affair. My grandfather bought the farm and farmland around the year 1935. My father and I continued its development. In the early 1990s, I founded the Saint-Félix company to be able to work as a family with my wife, son, daughter and son-in-law. Felix is the first name of the justice of the peace of Cavaillon who built the Saint Felix castle in 1833 north of Cavaillon in the plain of Durance and Coulon. The castle has become the family home and our estate extends all around. We are located 2 km from Durance and Coulon, near the woods and biotope. These very fertile alluvial soils allow for the cultivation of all fruit and vegetable crops.
The crops have changed over time: my grandfather and father cultivated melon and various vegetable crops, such as potatoes and carrots. A lover of fruits since day one, my passion turned very quickly to fruit trees, I planted apple trees then cherry trees, apricot trees, plum trees, quince trees and most recently pistachio trees.
We have long been aware of the inconvenience of chemicals, which is why we started the organic conversion in 2001 and finished it in 2015 throughout the whole farm. With the support of all the people working with me, we also switched to biodynamic farming in 2021. Our action is focused on improving soil life for a greater diversity of flora and fauna. The direct consequence of this is a better resistance of trees to diseases and external threats, such as rodents or aphids.
The water used for cultivation comes from the Saint Julian canal, which is fed by the Durance. It should be noted that each tree requires between 10 and 15 litres of water per day between May and the end of September. To control water consumption, we use three methods: drip irrigation, sprinkling and gravity watering. The latter, which consists of flooding the soil from time to time for deeper water penetration, is an ancestral technique that we still use, in addition to the other two.
As we practice natural sodding, the grass is kept between the fruit trees. It serves as a refuge for ladybirds, which are predators of aphids. It contains clover and poppies to enrich the surroundings of trees and help protect them. Natural sodding thus maintains a natural ecosystem close to the wild. The grass is shredded just at the time of the fruit harvest and redeposited at the feet of the trees as compost.
We also use a pest control method, sexual confusion, to eradicate the codling moth which is a parasitic worm in apples. We release a pheromone (same smell as the female butterfly) so that the male is disturbed and thus the development of the codling moth is limited.
During the asbestos removal of roofs and their insulation, our operating buildings were covered with photovoltaic panels in 2011. Energy harvested in this way is less polluting.
In addition to the family members who have been present since the beginning, the operation has created 9 full-time jobs since 2014 in positions as varied as secretaries, accountants, order handler, parking manager and delivery driver. The stability of their situation and the inclusion of a disabled person strengthens our team. In addition, to manage the farm in high season, we need the assistance of about forty seasonal workers still hired under the terms of collective agreements for agriculture. From May to November, they work in orchards, from May to June they harvest cherries and apricots and help with manual thinning work, and finally, from August to November, they participate in the apple harvest.
The apples you receive are chosen with the utmost care according to their ripeness and taste. As for the unsold fruit, we make juices and compotes and the pruning remains are crushed and placed in the orchards as green fertiliser.