la bergerie de Villarceaux
The Sheepfold of Villarceaux (La Bergerie de Villarceaux) gathers social and economic organisations working for the sustainable development of Villarceaux.
The Bergerie's territory (400 hectares) and its landscape have been converted to organic farming at the beginning of the 21st century. The transitions's aim was to try out a more autonomous farming system, based on a better complementarity between livestock and crops. For that, it was necessary to completely rethink the production process:
- Reintroducing grassland that fix atmospheric nitrogen (thus fertilizing the soil) and limit the growth of weeds in the fields.
- Creating a cattle farm in a cereal farming area. A herd of Salers cows (approximately 160), raised for their meat, joined a herd of sheep (approximately 100) to graze on and make use of the hay grown on the meadows. All of the fodder for these animals is produced on the farm.
- Dividing the large parcels (from an average of 20 hectares down to 7) to avoid big blocks of crops that are more vulnerable to diseases. At the same time, hedges (20,000 trees) or grass strips were set up along the perimeters of these parcels. These semi-natural zones contribute to the crops' protection by providing a habitat for auxiliary insects.
- A consumers' cooperative was created to organise a direct link to consumers.
Such changes improved the farm's self-sufficiency, engendering a living environment that meets the aspirations of our society. The farm’s trails, open for walks, allow the visitor to take measure of this transformation.
The estate’s old farmhouse has recently been refurbished to bring it in line with environmental and sustainable standards, including the uses of natural insulation materials, wood heating, solar panels, rainwater collection, natural purification through lagooning, etc.
The Bergerie’s Oecocenter includes rural guest-houses, group guest-houses, meeting and training rooms seating from 16 to 110, and an organic restaurant. It welcomes:
* Companies and organizations for seminars and shareholders’ meetings;
* Scholars and students for conferences and training sessions;
* School groups and recreation centers for theme-based events;
* Groups, associations, and families for nature vacations.
The group and rural guest-houses are labeled 2 “ears of corn