September 19, 2021

At the XXL farm of La Motte de Talcy, “without the Bulgarian seasonal workers, no organic”

Blue overalls and pink cheekbones, Vasil walks forward, his weeder in hand. He observes the horizon, then smiles: ” There is a lot of work ! We are there thirty days. After, we go to Sancerre [dans le Cher]. Then in Greece, Italy or Portugal, we’ll see. “ With about fifty comrades, men and women, uncles and cousins, he made the trip to Bulgaria to revitalize a vast field of organic onions covered with wild grass after two weeks of rain.

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This field is part of the 1,300 hectares exploited by the Ferme de la Motte, located in Talcy (Loir-et-Cher), which has become an institution in Beauce Loire, as famous as this 16th century castle.e century a stone’s throw away. The reason for its notoriety: the farm and its 30,000 tonnes of annual production supply all French supermarkets with its organic potatoes or its condiments (onion, garlic, shallot) in conventional or organic cultivation, under the brands of the various brands.

“Organic is now 60% of our turnover for only 35% of our volumes, congratulates Bertrand Lemaire, who manages the farm with his two brothers and two of his cousins. Four years ago, we weren’t making red onions because there was no variety resistant to our weather conditions. We bought our organic in Holland, Spain, Italy and we resold it. This year, all our product ranges are growing at 75% in France, it’s still huge! »

No local workforce

Planting, weeding, harvesting, peeling, cleaning, drying, packaging, sale, storage or loading of trucks punctuate the days of this farm-factory, with 300 employees, not counting seasonal workers, therefore Bulgarians, “Hosted here, paid minimum wage, French salary”, insists Mr. Lemaire, who is sorry to no longer find local agricultural labor. “I also went to the Orléans and Châteaudun ZUPs to recruit. But no one wants to work on a Saturday collecting shallots, regardless of the pay. In organic, you need a lot more people than in conventional and on specific days, otherwise you will not pick up anything. Without Bulgarians, no organic. “

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Impressed by a recent visit, François Bonneau, the PS president of the Center-Val de Loire region and candidate for his re-election, recognizes a farm “Complementary to small farms in short circuits and with a leverage effect: it accelerates the ecological transition, by encouraging Beauceron farmers all around to get started”. Which are offered three-year contracts, at fixed volumes and prices, to supply organic orders from Ferme de la Motte. Seventy have already signed.

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