The Vlemmings

Guillaume, Wim





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Organic farming

Engaged in biology since 1976, the day they arrived in France in 1979, they became certified by Nature et progres, and then later by Ecocert. Despite their techniques and knowlegde there have been years of pioneering and misadventure and despair when a harvest was lost to parasites or diseases. The development of the integrated biological control investment in the plastic tunnels has allowed them, little by little to master their methods of cultivation.

Techniques created by Pierre Gevaert of LIMA enterprise, and by Marcel and José Verbruggen, pioneers of the GABSO, were of great assistance. The first for working the soil and the other for the loan of their ground and their technical support. In addition to help, from other biological farms in the Lot valley, Pierre and Simone Gravelle, neighbours and organic farmers, helped sharing their lake(irrigation), their knowlegde of the land and their technical skills. The inhabitants of Bazens and Clermon-Dessous provided much help by lending their equipment and their insight.

At first they begon with low cost apricultural produce such as garlic, onions, cauliflower, conservery tomatoes, ... All were grown on open fields, but when they faced with changeable weather and the frustration of having no protection against, rain and temperature, they decided to buy two protective tunnels, each 4 metrs wide and 20metres long. They enabled their crops to grow and later they used those tunnels to cultivate oyster mushrooms. This was not succesful, because the spores affected Guillaume's health. After suffering several attacks of asthma, Guillaume abandoned the cultivation of mushrooms.

Encouraged by the succes of crops grown in these two small tunnels, they bought two second-hand one measuring 8m x 70m. These provided more warmth, and enabled the cultivation of tomatoes and cucumbers. Everything was done by hand, even the grading of tomatoes! The land was very uneven and after several years of problems of hot summers and irrigation (they emptied the Gravelles lake!!) they decided to look for another property and to leave Clermont-Dessous.

They found a delightfulplace in Sainte Livrade sur Lot, on the banks of the river Lot. It was a farm with fields and had been unused for several years after the death of the previous owner. In his time, the fields had been used for cows for more than 100 years! So no problem for organix culturs.
Their irrigation problems were resolved, their cultivation techniques by now were more or less mastered, but numerous other problems appeared: rabbits, coypus, rats and mole crickets (an insect). During the first season, all crops were eaten in the night after planting. Protective devices were installed, establishing a balance between the creatures' needs and those of the crops; the soil worked its magic.

More tunnels were bought and even a big plastic greenhouse. After the terrible storm of 1999, all the tunnels were destroyed and they hesitated to continue or stop everything! New investments were decided and a second plastic greenhouse was built. The loans were enaged for another 10 years!! Hard years, because the basic loans were not finished at all!!

Than the wholsaler bankrupt and they lost a great amount of money. What to do?? Wim decided to start an SARL with fourteen other vegetable growers and they ercted BIOGARONNE . Wim became the 'gérant'. A coomercial saler, a bookkeeper, and a palettist are defending the organic farmers the best they can! This works out very well and now they are lacking merchandises, as the demand is growing due to all the 'chemic' desasters we had! (ADN, OMG, chicken desease, ....)

Experiments of all kind of vegetables : from garlic to mushrooms, plant making, melons, tomatoes, cucumbers (heated), pumpkins, leek, fennel, cherry tomatoes, peppers, egg-plants, potatoes, carrots, ....: you name it, Wim did it: even flowers for Holland!

Just untill today they survived and developped their farm with more and more land. Neighbours are retiring and nobody to take over. More horse, includes more land.

Actually they have 1.5 ha of platic tunnels, 4 ha of open field vegetables and 8 ha of meadows.