French producer grows 400 varieties of tomatoes without water or pesticides

Pascal Poot has been an organic producer of seed grown products for 20 years. He has developed a method allowing him to farm 400 or so varieties of organic tomatoes without watering or using pesticides. He has over 3 hectares in the Hérault region where he farms his tomatoes and other old variety vegetables. The weather in the region is very dry and the terrain rocky, so his method of farming is extremely interesting with each plant producing up to 25kg of tomatoes.

Pascal Poot based his research on the fact that weeds grow so easily, yet it is so hard to farm vegetables. “Everyone tries to farm vegetables by protecting them as much as possible, I, on the other hand, try to encourage them to defend themselves” explains Mr Poot. He creates his own seeds that resist drought and disease. This method allowed him to obtain higher yields than in traditional agriculture.

“At first people thought I was crazy, but after a while, the neighbours saw that I had more tomatoes than them and never any mildew, so people began to talk and the researchers came to see me” says Mr Poot. He now works alongside agricultural researchers and presents his work in agricultural engineering schools.

A share of his seeds are sold illegally as they are not entered in the Official Catalogue of Varieties of Vegetable Species. Mr Poot explains that the law forbids them from legalising the seeds as “all of the seeds, or almost all of them, have been bought by multinationals who create phytosanitary products and fertilisers, they are interested in ensuring that the plants need these treatments in order to sell their products”. In order to achieve recognition for his vegetable producing techniques he organises workshops for individuals (gardeners or novices). Sébastian, who took part in a workshop says that he has “a better understanding of how plants work (…) By just watering when the plant is put in the ground, one can leave the plant on its own against a lack of water and disease. To do so one just needs to trust nature, that in 3 years of harvest the seeds will give birth to resistant plants, whose parents will have made a mark on their genetic coding in conjunction with their evolutionary context.” He says that “thanks to men like Pascal and his team, in a few years time we will be able to find tomatoes of all colours and shapes in organic markets”.

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