by Xavier Devaux (EURAF National Delegate for France, Chargé de mission Agriculture, Direction de l'Action Territoriale Pôle Développemen, France)
The Heather-Farm was founded in 1974. Hervé, who grew up there, his wife Céline and a fulltime worker farm 164 hectares to produce organic beef. They breed 84 Limousin cows. Cattle graze across hectares of grassland and get hay or silage from meadows which undergo an accurate management. Furthermore, Hervé and Céline grow 34 hectares of wheat, rye, spelt, triticale and peas to feed 80 bullocks every year. Unlike most cattle-breeders in Limousin, they don’t produce corn silage and don’t buy any food for their livestock. The Heather-Farm aims at food self-sufficiency in order to be competitive as a producer of high-quality beef.
Trees and hedges are meant to support self-sufficiency too. Hervé always thought that they belong to modern agriculture. They don’t just protect cattle from sun in summer, rain and chilly northern wind in winter. They improve yield. They provide firewood and wood chips which replace straw in stables. That’s the reason why Hervé and Céline keep 25 kilometer (15 miles) of hedges on their farm. Oak, hornbeam, ash and holly are part of a gorgeous landscape which they enjoy every day.