HATS OFF TO OUR LOCAL PRODUCERS

by Sophie Cattoire

Yvonne and Éric Castang are present on the Bugue market every Tuesday and Saturday morning
Photo copyright: Sophie Cattoire
Yvonne and Éric Castang are present on the Bugue market every Tuesday and Saturday morning
Photo copyright: Sophie Cattoire

Although we automatically step back just as we’re about to hug each other – something, admittedly, that I find hard to do with my closest friends – there is however a heart-warming consequence of the health crisis we have been going through. Sensibly avoiding the crowds, we have turned once more to our local producers for our food requirements. The maisons paysannes (local produce shops with a human touch) are going from strength to strength and buying straight from the growers or opting for local distribution channels has now become a matter of course. As a result, our local farmers have been able to pick themselves up again, with no middlemen there to fleece them.

We began our information website adventure: www.albuga.info, expressing a truly independent form of journalism, using the full potential of multimedia – feature stories, hyperlinks, lots of photos and videos… – on 21 June 2006, midsummer day; our top story was a tribute to one of those families who supply us with food thanks to their outstanding fruit and vegetable productions.

The Castang family, whose son, Éric, is one of the pioneers of Biological Control. What exactly does that consist of? Observing and reproducing the natural predator-prey cycles of insects so as to avoid any use of pesticides on a farm.

We invite you to rediscover this adorable family, the parents Jules and Yvonne, the son Éric and their tiny little helpers in the seven photo and video reportages and the feature article we had devoted to them. Don’t miss the classic « LES LARVES AU BOULOT » and the absolutely spontaneous remarks of Jean-René Laserre, former director of the Dordogne Veterinary Services, inside a greenhouse where he was choosing tomatoes, utterly dismayed by what is systematically thrown down our throats.

Our thanks to all those growers who have abandoned mainstream farming methods and have come to their senses. They are working towards a brighter future for life on Earth and all our children. We shall always be beside them, with admiration and affection, and look forward to giving them a very big hug – very soon!

Yvonne Castang has always sensed that nature knows better than chemicals

AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION IN MAUZENS MIREMONT

Using insects as an insecticide, choosing the good ones to get rid of the bad ones, that’s the 100% natural solution advocated by the PBI. Biological Control (Protection Biologique Intégrée) a term as yet unknown to many, offers an alternative to chemical treatments and guarantees health and productiveness. Into the bargain, growers can enjoy seeing how well nature gets on on its own when we respect its cycle.

Jules Castang has never trusted chemical treatments and prefers by far the use of insects

AVANT-GARDE ECO-FRIENDLY CULTURE

The Castangs have been living in Mauzens Miremont for three generations. Henri, the grandfather, had inherited from his uncle, François Beaucornu, this beautiful land where the Grand Font and Brungidou rivers meet – a vital asset for market gardening. In days gone by, water wasn’t free for all. It was Henri who started growing vegetables here in 1945. His son, Étienne, born on August 11, 1934, called Jules in memory of the son of the uncle who died during the Great War, began working on the farm at age 13. In 1960 he married Yvonne Courteville in Saint-Cernin de Reilhac, where she was living at the time. Yvonne Courteville was born on December 14, 1940 at the Château de Malbec in Fleurac where her parents were servants. The farm now belongs to their son Éric Castang, born on September 28, 1961. He is the only market gardener in Le Bugue. The job is exhausting. Throughout the seasons he has to monitor the different stages of the plant’s development right up to the sale at the farm gate or on the market. In the middle of summer, there are the markets in Le Bugue and La Douze, deliveries to restaurants and holiday camps, on the spot sales and accountancy… He doesn’t get much sleep! But Éric loves his job and vigorously pioneers a 100% natural method.

For every plant bug, nature has made sure there is a predator

BUMBLEBEE POLLINATION

Yvonne Castang is fascinated by flowers. She cultivates over a thousand varieties and composes subtly coloured bunches to sell on the markets in Le Bugue on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A keen observer of nature, she has always maintained that successful farming can be done without chemicals. An intuition shared by a Belgian vet, Dr. Roland de Jonghe. In the eighties he came up with the brilliant idea of introducing bumblebees into greenhouses to pollinate tomatoes. Outdoors this happens quite naturally, but in their greenhouses, to optimise production, the market gardeners had resorted to shaking by hand each tomato flower every three days for four months, the flowering period. A tedious job and steep labour cost into the bargain. The introduction of bumblebee hives into the greenhouses was a great relief. All over the world and on each and every tomato flower, they now ensure that the male pollen meets the pistil – effortlessly.

The expert opinion of Jean-René Lasserre, former Directeur des Services Vétérinaires de la Dordogne

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL

That’s how the concept of using insects to fertilize plants, while at the same time eliminating other intrusive insects, came into being. Identifying the pests and introducing their natural predators – that’s the ecological principle of what we call la protection biologique intégrée (ecology being the science that studies the relations between living creatures and their environment). By bringing in these tiny little gardeners, who set to work with due respect for the existing ecosystem, you can avoid the use of loads of of insecticide of one sort or another which has proved harmful to the soil, the water, the air and subsequently to our health. In Mauzens Miremont, Éric Castang has opted for this natural approach since 2003 and, looking back, he can see that it works wonderfully well. No more need for endless heavy-going treatments – with masks on our faces. Just a brood of bumblebees for the pollination and ladybird larvae to gobble up the aphids – and hey presto!

For the wellbeing of all, Éric Castang, market gardener, has opted for la Lutte Biologique Intégrée

HEALTH AND PRODUCTIVITY IN HARMONY

Éric Castang has stopped using insecticides on his farm. He continues to feed his soils with cattle manure that is two years old. As a precaution, he still uses a bit of weed killer on the paths and drives where insect pests seek refuge in brambles and nettles. Thanks to his understanding of the natural predator-prey cycles in the teeming world of insects, each spring he elaborates a program for introducing the species that are best for his specific needs. At the end of the season he works out how much he has saved: 20% more on tomatoes as from 2005, for example. What’s more, over the first two years, between 2003 and 2005, he managed to make his farm a healthier place where fruits and vegetables can be picked and eaten without being washed. Éric Castang appreciates this new approach since less time is needed for spraying and more time is enjoyed observing up close the natural world. Biological Control has now become a practical alternative to chemical treatments. At no extra cost, it guarantees better results, for health and productivity. A true agricultural revolution is underway.

Sophie Cattoire

Translated into English by Valérie Saraben

Sous le viaduc de Mauzens Miremont est implantée la famille Castang depuis trois générations
The Castang family have lived beneath the Mauzens Miremont viaduct for three generations
Annonces
PRO&Cie le reflexe gentillesse Aux-Rois-Louis - Une collection exceptionnelle de poteries et de meubles d'époque Garage Bruneteau & Fils, 24260 Le Bugue