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Powering the pasture: Ferme de Mirande’s renewable energy triumph

Ferme de Mirande

In the world of sustainable farming, Ferme de Mirande stands as a shining example of innovative practices and environmental stewardship. This small Charolais beef producer has not only achieved energy self-sufficiency but has also created a closed-system organic operation. The remarkable achievements of this farm caught the attention of our Terroir Field School, prompting a visit to explore the secrets behind its success.

What immediately catches the eye upon arriving at Ferme de Mirande is the barn roof adorned with gleaming solar panels. This impressive solar installation serves as the primary source of energy for the farm. By utilizing solar power, the farm reduces its reliance on non-renewable energy sources and significantly lowers its carbon footprint.

Another key aspect of Ferme de Mirande’s sustainability strategy is the careful management of its treed hedgerows. Rather than depleting these valuable resources, the farm sustainably harvests the wood from the hedgerows. This wood is then utilized as biomass, contributing to the farm’s energy production. By prioritizing responsible wood harvesting, Ferme de Mirande ensures the long-term health and vitality of its surrounding ecosystem.

One of the most remarkable features of Ferme de Mirande’s operation is its ability to turn waste into energy. The cattle waste generated on the farm is harnessed to fuel a biosolids energy system. This innovative system not only reduces waste but also converts it into valuable energy resources. The integration of this closed-loop energy system allows the farm to operate with minimal external inputs, making it a truly self-sustaining organic operation.

A closer look at Ferme de Mirande’s energy consumption reveals an impressive breakdown. Roughly 50% of the farm’s total energy needs are met by solar power, while an additional 40% is fulfilled by biosolids energy. The remaining 10% is covered by sustainable wood harvesting used for boilers, providing heat for the house and neighboring properties, as well as being sold for mulch and animal bedding. The excess electricity generated by the farm’s solar system is exported to the grid, offsetting its minimal petrol consumption.

The energy-positive approach adopted by Ferme de Mirande has resulted in remarkable outcomes for their Charolais beef production. Each animal yields an impressive 500 kilograms at a price of 5.30 euros per kilogram, which translates to nearly all-profit margins. This success is rooted in their closed-system organic operation, where no external materials or energy enter the farm. By minimizing reliance on external resources, the farm reduces costs, preserves the environment, and produces high-quality, sustainable beef.

Ferme de Mirande serves as an inspiration to farmers and sustainable agriculture enthusiasts alike. By adopting innovative practices and embracing a closed-system approach, Ferme de Mirande demonstrates that sustainable farming is not only environmentally responsible but also financially rewarding. As we strive for a more sustainable future, Ferme de Mirande’s journey reminds us of the potential that lies in integrating renewable energy and ecological practices into traditional farming methods.

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    Ecogastronomy Research Group

    I and my students use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality”, and the primacy of place … “Ecogastronomy”

    Dr. John Volpe

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