The strawberry season has started for Delphine Diot, a strawberry grower in the French town of Chavagne. For Delphine, her team and the Solarenn cooperative (Saint-Armel), the strawberry marathon has begun in order to harvest the 42 tons of gariguettes between March and July!
Delphine Diot, whose parents and grandparents were also producers, is starting her 5th strawberry season at Solarenn. After 23 years managing a road sign company and then reconverting, she took over the family business in Domaines (Chavagne) in March 2017: 8,000m² of glass greenhouses, including 5,000m² of early strawberries and 3,000m² of late strawberries.
The goal of the young producer was then to grow strawberries. “It is a nice product, tasty and quite feminine, both delicate and fragile…”, explains Delphine. The gariguette is probably the most famous with its refined and tangy taste.
A delicate and very feminine harvest
As the sole manager of her company, Delphine is a unique strawberry producer at Solarenn. When the season begins, everything must be ready because the strawberries do not wait: seasonal workers, packaging… For over 4 months, she will provide the Solarenn cooperative, twice a day, with the most fresh supply.
With her feminine team (1 man only out of 12 employees) during this marathon, Delphine harvests between 200 and 800 kilos per day. The gariguettes are harvested by hand, when they are ripe, and placed delicately next to each other in the trays. “Strawberries are a very fragile product. There is a very particular technique to picking them, without touching them. Restaurants love them because they keep for 3 to 4 days without getting spoiled.”
Between expertise and respect for the living
For the past 5 years, Delphine has been refining her production methods by paying attention to the environment. She does not use any phytosanitary products and her greenhouse has the HEV level 3 label. The strawberry is a very delicate undergrowth plant that does not like heat or too much water. Grown in gutters, in suspended gardens, the gariguettes are picked at shoulder height. “This technique makes harvesting quite a comfortable task. No need to bend over. The well-being of my ‘girls’ at work is indeed a very important aspect. Delphine is also very attentive to her strawberries “because we are dealing with living things.” The strawberry grower therefore uses bumblebees to pollinate the flowers and in order to deal with pests, she uses auxiliary insects that fight against aphids, red spiders...
The automatic drip watering system allows for the fine management of water and nutrient supply and prevents from watering daily if it is not necessary, “which gives the strawberry its taste and flavor,” explains Delphine. “The plant in its core already has potential, but it is necessary to take good care of it and give it exactly what it needs. Everything pays off when people tell you that your product is good and keep asking for more.”
The Solarenn cooperative in 2021
As the fifth largest operator on the tomato market in France and 3rd largest producer in Brittany, the Solarenn cooperative (Ille-et-Villaine) brings together 32 producers over 65 ha of greenhouses. A company on a human scale which has 30 permanent employees and more than 50 seasonal workers in the summer (equivalent to 45 full-time workers). All the farms together represent approximately 500 people.
In 2020, the cooperative reported a revenue of 50 million euros [59.74 million USD] and marketed: 30,000 tons of tomatoes, 40 tons of gariguette strawberries, 100 tons of mini peppers. 100% of the Solarenn producers have been labeled High Environmental Value (HEV) level 3 for three years, and the whole production is free of pesticides*. Solarenn has been committed to “responsible” farming and sustainable development for a long time. In 2021, the cooperative is intensifying its social, economic and environmental commitment.
For more information:
Nathalie Jouan - Press contact
Phone: 06 61 77 35 00