Bay vegetables! From Mont Saint Michel

By Pierrick Jegu

A meeting with Alexandre Frain, not far from Mont-Saint-Michel… His territory? This fabulous bay which, in addition to offering unique landscapes, is the ideal land for high quality market gardening.  


Far from the crowds that flock to Mont Saint-Michel all year round and even more so in the spring, Roz-sur-Couesnon is a quiet little town. Having arrived in front of the church, we still have a little further to go. You have to travel a few more kilometres to meet Alexandre Frain, take a small shady road on a steep slope then travel another few hundred meters on land that suddenly becomes flat. Strange geography. The latter bears the hand of man: between 1851 and 1949, notably instigated by Napoleon III, 3,000 hectares of land were reclaimed from the sea with the creation of polders, and with dykes to protect them. Behind the new coastline remain dead cliffs, now orphaned from the sea and at least a few hundred metres away from it. Above all, this created incomparable, perfectly sandy market garden soil, even if there are "a few nuances between the heavier and lighter soils," Alexandre hastens to specify.  

In the spring, we plant! 

Nature does not wait... The young man is busy on this sunny spring morning. In one of his plots, he is to be found walking around a tractor that is driving itself. On a few seats perched at the back of the machine, his mother Lydie and three South American farm workers are busy planting beetroot. Alexander supervises very closely. He has the radiant complexion of someone who works outside; a deep tan. At first glance, he does not seem particularly talkative, actually rather quiet. But he needs no encouragement to start talking about his job. At 30, he is still at the beginning of his life as a farmer. But he wasted no time. Should he take over his father's flock of sheep? He thought about it and ultimately decided upon another path; to plough his furrow on a farm of several tens of hectares whose plots all extend within a radius of two kilometres around the farm where his family has been since 1865!  

© Louis Laurent Grandadam

On the "menu", so-called "winter" vegetables 

"We mainly grow winter vegetables, several varieties of vegetables, carrots with the sweet taste so characteristic of the region, potatoes, turnips, celery, red and yellow beetroot and even chioggia beetroot," a delicious and crunchy variety with a surprising pink and white heart. "The other plots are dedicated to cereals, in particular spring barley which I sell to the Brasserie Lancelot, a well-known producer selling excellent beers, and alfalfa in the interest of crop rotation," intended to avoid soil depletion. “In the spring, we sow and plant. During the summer, we clear the weeds and hoe to "fight" the grass which has become a little invasive. From September and then throughout autumn and winter is the harvest period,” explains Alexandre when asked about his annual schedule. Arriving at the end of the plot, he climbs back into the tractor to turn it around and start a few new lines of planting.  

Demand for organic 

At this point, his sister Cécile arrives with coffee and biscuits. Alexandre takes advantage of the break to reveal his commitment to organic farming. The main idea is to "respect the environment and consumers, and to take full advantage of the benefits of this unique region." And don't go imagining a caricature of an organic farmer; Alexandre embodies the exact opposite, the seriousness and rigour that make his production regular and sought-after, and his vegetables are quite worthy of accompanying the lamb produced by his father, Yannick, at the family table. Among the most anticipated products, "this new potato with skin so fine it is cooked without peeling,” resembling more a veil than a shell. And every year, Alexandre and his fans await them with bated breath! 

Alexandre Frain: Polder Saint-Louis, 35610 Roz-sur-Couesnon. > 02 99 80 28 22 

The French touch you need in your inbox

Please complete this field
Your registration is confirmed