As far as we remember, our family always worked as farmers and produced onions and shallots in Roscoff. Roscoff is a small town located on the north coast of Finistère (in Brittany) which, thanks to its mild and humid climate, allows for the cultivation of vegetables. But the vegetable of which Roscoff is most proud is the onion: a sweet and fruity onion, which makes all gourmets happy. So much so that in 2009, it obtained an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) and then Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 2013.
It is here that we spent our childhood, between the sea and the onions and lulled by the English stories of our father and grandparents who used to sell their onions there until the mid 1960s; the famous Johnnies. Shallots are a complementary product to onions. Their cultivation is quite different even if they are both from the same family (*alliums*).
My brother and I grew up in Roscoff, spending the holidays helping our parents on the farm, especially for the onion and shallot harvest during summer. At the end of August, we were following our father for the most important moment of the year: the harvest. Some of us filled buckets with onions or shallots and others emptied them in big wooden crates in which the onions were to spent the winter nice and dry!
After our studies and our past experience in companies, we decided to follow the history and come back to the farm, growing onions. We were lucky to be able to capitalize on the experience of our father, the emblematic figure of the farm and at the heart of this story of transition and transmission.
We try to grow our products as environmentally friendly as possible, reducing the use of pesticides and using our hands to get rid of the weeds. We don’t need irrigation because in Brittany the rain is frequent.
In 2018, my brother and I fully took over the farm (but still with our father’s support) and we invested in machinery to help us in the daily tasks. We are 3 people working on the farm. Since this date, we also started making caramelized onions. Another step! We try to work as manually as possible. This way, all the onions or shallots that you will receive will have been checked one by one and put in the box by a person, not a machine!
We also grow artichokes, which is an ancestral crop that always requires very manual work, from planting to harvesting. This crop is interesting at the agronomic level, firstly because it remains in place for a long time and therefore allows the soil to be well structured, and secondly because the grinding of the above-ground parts feeds the soil by returning organic matter in large quantities (only part of the plant is harvested).
The farm also grows cauliflower, a product that has historically been grown in the region. Due to its immediate proximity to the sea, this plant particularly enjoys the richness of the soil and the mildness of the winter. Since we took over the farm, we have incorporated new well-known cabbage types (kale) or more original ones (Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi).
The "Ferme de Kergus" now bears our name, and has become "Maison Quemener" in 2021. We wanted to mark a change with our customers (especially business customers, as private individuals know us) by emphasising our founding values: the quality of our products, the know-how of our crops and the preservation of the tradition received from our ancestors.
All residues (skins / roots) have a second life and are used as compost.
Our dream? Give fame to Roscoff onions and shallots and make them necessary for all your dishes.