Our farm, « La Oizéenne », was created in 1824, at a place called le Châtaignier, Oizé en Sarthe. For 8 generations, our lands have been passed down from father to son. Apples were our first crop. Since then, we have diversified by growing fruits and vegetables of various varieties.
As a family business, we are committed to promoting the economy and creating jobs in our city. Thus, we employ around thirty people, living in Oizé or in the neighbouring municipalities, many of whom have followed us for many years. Thanks to them, we perform a manual sorting of apples in order to guarantee quality apples to the consumers.
In our orchards, 5 hectares have been dedicated to apples certified as Organic Farming since 2016, the other apple trees respect an eco-responsible orchard approach. We have been cultivating our land for 200 years. We want to ensure longevity and cultivate for many more years, which is why we have opted for Organic Farming, which seems to us the method most suited to our wishes. We cultivate our land with respect for the environment. Thus, for the growth of our apple trees, we are equipped with a weather station in order to know the needs of our trees. You should know that during its growth a tree needs 800mm of water per year and later in vegetation 600mm of water per year. We obtain this water by drilling and reserving water, this water is then used by a sprinkler and drip irrigation system. At the same time, for our organic cultivation, we do not use any chemicals and favour mechanical weeding 2 to 3 times a year and one mowing per year. We promote biodiversity within our orchards by limiting the applications of phytosanitary products, by limiting mowing, by creating flowery fallows to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. When we prune our trees, the pruned wood is crushed directly in the orchards to limit the spread of pathogens. The harvest is done by hand and in order to guarantee quality apples, the sorting of the apples after harvesting is also done manually by our local employees.
We grow our organic squash on 15 hectares of land. All our squashes are grown organically. Thanks to our weather station, we can foresee if this plot will need water in case the rain does not allow for the necessary water supply. However, the squash requires little water and is a hardy vegetable. With the weather we have had for the last two years, there has been no need to install an irrigation system. At the same time, for our organic cultivation, we do not use any products and favour manual or mechanical hoeing. Hoeing allows us to remove weeds that hinder the development of the squash plants. The soil is also more aerated to allow water to infiltrate to the roots.
We have 2 hectares of farmland for sweet potato cultivation. The sweet potatoes have been grown organically since 2020 and are plants that produced after the last frost. We plant the tuber sprouts in sandy soil and carry out maintenance work by hand: hoeing just like the squash, removing weeds and, before harvesting, we pluck three quarters of the leaves to optimise the sweet potato's ripening and make the plant accessible for the sweet potato harvest. Again, the weather station on the farm helps us to know exactly how much water the plant needs in real time. At the same time, we have redone the entire irrigation network. These two elements now allow us to have better control over the water supply. The sweet potato is irrigated using a sprinkler system, obtained by drilling.
We are limiting waste by making apple juice or mashed apples from our leftover harvest.