Marie Rolland, organic vegetable grower: "it's a pride to feed people"

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At a time when France and Germany are refusing to reduce the budget of the cap desired by the European Commission, which would result in a reduction in aid to farmers, there are young farmers who approach their trade with faith and passion Required. This is the case of Marie Rolland, located in Nord-Finistère, Brittany, where she proposes a production of organic, reasoned and human-sized vegetables.

Marie Rolland could have been content to continue teaching plant technology in a professional high school. But at the dawn of his thirties, after six years of good and loyal service, she convinced herself that her happiness was in the meadow. A farmer's daughter, she had somehow let her project of market gardening be germinate. The fruit finally ripe, he only had to pick it. "I had a crazy Bowl with a farm like this one of twenty hectares. The property belonged to my father, uncles, aunts, and my father gave me his share, so it was a part less to redeem, explains Marie Rolland, who was busy as a potron-twink to feed her sheep farm.

Its installation has not been done without difficulty. "I started my activity in 2015 with a somewhat precarious status, contributing solidary, a secondary status often in addition to a salaried activity, but I was only doing that. I went to bio right away, for three years, the time my father retired and I resumed the farm in June 2017, she recalls. After long installation steps, Marie Rolland finally became a principal farmer, on 1 may 2018.

It is in Brittany in Plouégat-Guerand, at the place called Ponthonars, in the confines of the northeastern finiserian, in the trégorrois country, that Marie Rolland passionately exercises her organic market gardening activity. Salads, tomatoes, squash, fennil, strawberries, eggplant, peppers, onions, shallots: its production extends over three sites distant a few kilometers from each other (in Plouigneau and Plougonven). A geographical dispersion that could be mitigated when most of the activities will be gathered on the site of the Plouégat-Guerand farm. The objective remains subject to the good financial health of his small business, the song of the Earth.

Organic, an obvious

Why organic? Daughter of conventional farmers, Marie Rolland defends the bio with fervor and conviction. "It was obvious. Already in relation to vegetables, foods that one will often consume grew. " A story of taste and quality, but not only, because bio is also the condition of its economic model, mainly based on direct sales. A reasoned, adapted and human-sized agriculture, where it is more about doing "with nature" than against nature. "When you do direct sales, you have to offer many products to people to bring them in. If I was working for retail, we would have to focus on a shorter range and increase production, so it's a completely different way of working. "

Behind the famous AB logo, there is always a producer. But the bio according to Marie Rolland is not an end in itself: what to think for example of organic tomatoes produced by the ton and that flood the shelves of the large distribution? "Nonsense is the kilometers that the products have made, the freshness," she explains, before clarifying that from one country to another, the bio does not always have the same taste: "within the European Union, the standards are not the same, a product banned in France can be allowed in other countries, there is the organic with Italian sauce or German sauce ". In the sauce of Mary, the vegetables are picked in the morning: "the taste is necessarily different from a product picked three days before," she proclaims not without pride. Exceptionally, in the event of surplus, a small part of its production can be delivered in specialised bio-retailers such as Biocoop stores. "I'm interested because I hate waste and can't transform everything. Some of my products end up in condiments, she says.

Direct sales

The principle of direct selling in the form of baskets whose content evolves over the seasons is not reserved for the inhabitants of small agglomerations. We see more and more groups of producers in the major French cities which, through the best social network, Word-of-mouth, offer to urban dwellers an enticing alternative for the stomach as for the wallet. The Union is the force and Marie Rolland has understood it, by proposing since this summer in addition to its baskets, a market of the farm every Friday afternoon, where it sells of course its products, but also those of other producers. "Bringing people in for vegetables is good, but the idea is to offer them a hyper-wide offer, and to make one stone six or seven strokes!" Seasonal vegetables, cold meats, honey, eggs, aromatic and medicinal plants, cheeses – organic of course and produced by Marie Rolland's own sister in the Basque country – there is enough to compose whole meals.

But do not go to tell the intrepid market gardener that the organic is more expensive than the rest… "When you want to eat well, you are able to put a few cents more, and not buy a frozen pizza that will cost more than a kilo of tomatoes," she warns immediately. Admittedly, the bio has a commercial advantage, because it is sold a little more expensive than the products from conventional farming. But organic seeds are more expensive and labor and working time are more important. "We don't make the quantity of conventional," justifies Marie Rolland. "This certainly requires a little more work on some vegetables, but for example the ABMS [organic farming groups, Editor's note] do a great job to popularize certain techniques, provide advice, and in seeds we have very very broad, "she continued.

"We pay for the AB logo"

Organic produce has another cost, that of certification issued by an accredited organization. About 470 euros per year paid by Marie Rolland for a package of up to 4 hectares and which allow it to decorate its production of the small logo AB (organic farming). "Whoever is going to spread glyphosate or anything on his field, this is not written anywhere on the final product. We pay to have an AB logo, explains Marie Rolland, who also made the choice not to certify her honey: it is based on trust, the hives are there, it is natural honey, there is no intervention. If I wanted to certify honey, it is another branch of certification, for which I should still pay. When the relationship of trust with customers is well established, I may be able to save other certification fees. "

Under her status as a principal farmer, Marie Rolland can now benefit from various financial assistance. "Since 2018, I have been entitled to aid calculated on the basis of the number of hectares, the number of ewes I raise, the type of cereals I produce, etc. It is not negligible, it allows many farmers to earn a monthly wage. My goal is not to live from it, but to be remunerated for the job I do, "warns the young market gardener. The Ministry of agriculture pays the ADI (young farmer's endowment), i.e. 24 000 euros of aid over 4 years. "The first year we touch 80% of the aid. After four years, I have to reach an income that must be between 1 and 3 SMIC maximum, otherwise I have to repay my ADI. So it hurts! The checks begin after two years, "notes Marie Rolland with lucidity.

"Changing habits"

On the European side, it will also take advantage of the CAP AIDS that are more important when you make organic, "but at the same time as we do less surface than in the conventional, finally it rebalances", assures Marie Rolland who for the first time c year recorded its parcels at the CAP. "On the Telepac site, I have to draw each of my plots, and all the slopes, the groves, all these areas have to be listed, it's a very long job to do." To receive premiums on the breeding of his sheep which she intends to commercialize organic meat, Marie Rolland will still have to wait, because these premiums are attributed from fifty sheep, and her breeding is only for the moment a forty heads.

As if to better propagate his passion for good and natural, Marie Rolland is also the presenter of the show "ideas full the Earth" regularly aired on the local channel Tébéo. Alongside his Jean-Jacques Morvan, she reveals tips, tricks and tips of the season for the maintenance of the garden. And it is with the same natural sympathetic and dynamic that it gives its clientele its explanations on the products it offers. "It's a pride to feed people, I like it, I love contact, explain, create a link, raise awareness, change habits," she admits at the threshold of a busy day between the three sites she exploits.

With rfi.fr

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