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Here we are in Ariège at the foot hills of the French Pyrenees in the village of Daumazan-sur-Arize. On our 16 acres farm, created last spring, our 2 draft horses Bali and Cobalt are getting on with winter jobs preparing for the coming season.
After an encouraging first season we are starting this year full throttle, or shall I say full hoof power, a 3000m² market garden of diverse vegetables.
Home at last
We finally own the land since September 23rd 2016. The farmer we bought it from was kind enough to let us start working on it before hand while the French administration system managed to crank itself into place. We are now the happy guardians of a fertile and promising soil wich will be the foundation of our work and life project.
That being said, we now have a restricted capital to continue to develop our activity. This is why we are starting this campaign.
Our experience in the field
We've been working on the land for quite a few years now and acquired a lot of experience through employment and training in organic and bio-dynamic farming and especially market-gardening.
Along side this, something new to this last couple of years was to learn the ropes of the draft horse. An in-depth, long training has been necessary to give us the skills and confidence to work alongside this fascinating animal, each one with a character of its own.
We are now convinced to have found our way forward in harmony with our ethics and still allowing us to make a living out of what we do.
Ethical choices for an environmental-friendly agriculture
- No more mistreatment of the soil with heavy machinery dispropotionatelty powerful, but let's be careful, working with limited power implies rigour and adapted technical choices.
Use of animal manure of which we know the origin as well as the farmers producing it and their practices.
Use of open pollinated varieties out of which we can save seeds years after years (as opposed to hybrids which do not reproduce true to type and are often GMOs under cover).
A particular attention to all non-renewable farm inputs: we do not use plastic mulches and try to limit our use of peat and fossil fuels. An ideal quite dificult to reach in our actual society but new options are flourishing regularly.
A family business
(left to right) Oak Tibo Olive Helen
Our children have both grown up on farms since birth. They have developed a passion for nature and the outdoor life. It is an environment that we value and would really love to keep offering them.
We believe that it is important for their personal development to have the opportunity to observe and participate, if they feel like it, in the activities of the farm. For example picking up cabbage caterpillars can be a fascinating game! Although they often want to keep them as pets and breed them which is relatively counter-productive to our activity... But hey! This is the joy of having children isn't it?
In need of more equipement
We've been lucky enough to pick up here and there different ancient or second hand equiptment with which we've been working up until now.
Like these 2 horse collars. Even though Bali's is a touch too small and Cobalt's is seriously knackered, they haven't complained yet but *we'd really like to equip them with brand new amish collars * for the season to come.
"A good collar is like a good pair of shoes, a good fit is essensial so it is comfortable and doesn't hurt!"
We also bought a second hand Kassine.
Built in Ariège by the PROMMATA workshops, it is a very versatile piece of modern horse machinery. But we are still missing implements wich would allow us to do all sorts of soil cultivation and precision weeding with the famous KRESS finger weeders. It's the end of hoeing and hand weeding, the horse does it all in one pass! (according we get the timing right of course). More infos on the Kassine on thisvideo.
We still need to acquire much more *equipment * (see list below) to reach a certain working comfort which would allow us to be viable financially without wearing ourselves out.
Le porteur de projet
I left home at the age of 19 with the urge to discover the world. After some humanitarian work in South-East Asia, my travels took me to Australia. There I discovered a passion for chocolate making and this is where I started my first business. Concerned about the origin and the social and environmental aspect of my ingredients, I started to look closer into the agricultural side of things. I then went to New Zealand where I studied organic and bio-dynamic farming. From the moment I put my hands in the earth, I knew that it was where my destiny was. It is also in New Zealand that I met Helen. When she got pregnant with our first child we decided to come back to England. I was looking for work to provide for my little family and, strong in my ethics, I found work in the field that interested me the most: organic market gardening. I worked for 3 years for a bio-dynamic market gardener in East-Sussex (South of England), a diligent and passionate grower who taught me many things about the job from his vast experience of the profession. We dreamt for a long time about settling in the South of France and in March 2015, one year after the birth of our daughter, we made this bold move. When we first arrived we worked on a farm that had been growing vegetables and cereals with horses for many years. At first it was a bit of a shock for me after being used to driving tractors of all different shapes and sizes, but very soon I became convinced of the pleasure and also the efficiency of working with horses. We started to look for our own land and here we are today in the early stages of creating Four Hooves Farm (La Ferme des 4 Sabots), a horse powered market garden.
I have always loved good food, working with it, making it and especially eating it ! I grew up in England and studyed Hotel and Catering Management, this gave me the skills I needed to work anywhere in the world and so I went travelling for many years, working, exploring and eating my way round. During my travels I discovered organic farming and soon realised how much it made sense, not only for the planet and my own health but also for the taste. Organic, seasonal vegetables taste so good ! The birth of our two children confirmed everything for me, I knew that I wanted to provide for them a healthy, home grown diet and a lifestyle where they could grow up close to land and the food they eat. Lucky that I have Thibaut, a passionate market gardener, by my side so that together we can realise this dream. As I love to cook, I found a job making cakes and pies for a local cafe in Foix. This gives me a great opportunity to transform some of the vegetables we produce into delicious organic eatable treats. I am looking forward to baking for the markets too and selling our vegetables there so they can reach a wider community.
What is my contribution for?
A good start to the new year
Help us invest in the strict minimum: an irrigation system, fencing, a trailer and stall for the market
Extra help in the garden
Help us to invest in modern horse machinery for soil cultivation, precision weeding and a hand seed drill
A working barn
Help us dig a cellar to preserve our vegetables and finish building the barn, the floor and the walls
The most urgent
Help us buy new collars for the horses to work comfortably
<div id="ProjectGoals"> <h2>What is my contribution for?</h2> <div class='project-goals'> <div class="project-goal"> <div class="project-goal-amount">5500.00 €</div> <div class="project-goal-content"> <h3>A good start to the new year</h3>
<p><p>Help us invest in the strict minimum: an irrigation system, fencing, a trailer and stall for the market</p><p> </p></p> </div> </div> <div class="project-goal"> <div class="project-goal-amount">7500.00 €</div> <div class="project-goal-content"> <h3>Extra help in the garden</h3>
<p><p>Help us to invest in modern horse machinery for soil cultivation, precision weeding and a hand seed drill</p><p> </p><p> </p></p> </div> </div> <div class="project-goal"> <div class="project-goal-amount">15000.00 €</div> <div class="project-goal-content"> <h3>A working barn</h3>
<p><p>Help us dig a cellar to preserve our vegetables and finish building the barn, the floor and the walls</p><p> </p></p> </div> </div> <div class="project-goal"> <div class="project-goal-amount">1500.00 €</div> <div class="project-goal-content"> <h3>The most urgent</h3>
<p><p>Help us buy new collars for the horses to work comfortably</p></p> </div> </div>
Describe your project goal
- New collars for the horses to work : 1 500€
- An irrigation system : 1 500 (cumul 3 000€)
- Fencing : 1 500€ (cumul 4 500€)
- New implements for the Kassine : 1 500€ (cumul 6 000€)
- Trailer and market stall euipment : 1 000€ (cumul 7 000€)
- Presicion seeder : 5 00€ (cumul 7 500€)
- Dig a cellar and finish the barn : 7 500€ (cumul 15 000€)
And if we get more?
We are planning to build 4 polytunnels making a total of 2000m². We will build them one by one as the money becomes available.
The total cost of this is 20,000€ and so any extra money we recieve will go towards this investment.