THE LOW OF HIGHTECH FARMING
Low intervention meets high tech: that’s one way to describe the practices at La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, where techniques are both utterly modern and anchored in the environmentally respectful approaches of the past. No chemical products are used to kill pests or enrich the soil. There is no fossil fuel-powered machinery.
Most of the work is done by hand. Plants are protected from insects with a contemporary textile, non-woven polypropylene, and UV-treated polyethylene tarps on the ground block the growth of weeds while vegetables grow through small holes.
The principles making this farming so efficient are simple: with less space between plants, less effort is needed to work on them because farmers have everything at hand. And if the land is densely planted with diverse species, it is more productive by square foot. Also, when farming is respectful of the soil and no chemicals are used, smart plant rotation is enough to keep the earth alive—there is no need for long breaks during which the soil regenerates itself while not producing anything.
“Companion” planting is also part of the Quatre-Temps approach: certain plants are paired because they help each other grow, whether due to their different nutrient needs or because different shapes and sizes provide protection from the elements. Useful pollinating insects are attracted by flowers. Birds and frogs eat pests.
On the animal-farming side, some of the practices are inspired by the work of holistic American farmer Joel Salatin. Chicken coops are on wheels and thus mobile, so that hens can always access new grass—and worms—while enriching the soil with their manure. The fields are then richer and greener for the cows. The pigs are free to roam in the forest.