Jerome Boenle

LAVENDER DISTILLER & GROWER PLATEAU DE SAULT, MONT VENTOUX

A PASSION FOR FARMING LAVENDER AND A FAMILY STORY

“ I grew up on the Sault plateau, in the Ventoux region, which straddles three other counties - Vaucluse, Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. My maternal grandparents owned a goat cheese farm there. I was already interested in working the land and more particularly in agricultural machinery. At 16, I helped with the lavender harvest while studying agricultural mechanics. At the age of 18, I could drive all our tractors as I loved these machines. I carried on with my studies and became a tractor and agricultural machinery salesman for an international manufacturer. I travelled a lot for business; I had many responsibilities but I missed the family farm and I had this strong need to go back home with my family. In 2007, I took over the family farm and developed it: we planted a lot more and invested a lot too. At that time, the lavender industry was in trouble. My stepfather was reluctant to accept my offer: he only produced 200 to 300 kilos of lavender per year and it was a risky bet to have 2 families live off that production. We decided to take the plunge together and I quit my job to work with him. The farm changed: we planted a lot more and invested a lot too. At the same time, we increased our planting area and grew hybrid and clonal lavender. Our farm operation has grown considerably. My brother joined us in 2015 and we took over more land. In 2018 we produced 3.5 tons of lavender and we are proud of our growth.”

WE LIVE WHERE LAVENDER GROWS.

Lavender is the symbol of Provence, the exceptional county where I was born, and in growing lavender, we preserve this unique Provençal landscape. If lavender didn't grown wild here, nobody would come and visit this remote area and we would lose our livelihood.

GROWING QUALITY FINE LAVENDER IN AN EXCEPTIONAL SETTING

Fine lavender grows at an altitude of 600 up to 1700 metres. Our farm is located at an altitude of 1000 metres and this environment is perfect for growing lavender. The plateau is vast and spreads over the middle of the mountain. Lavender was first cultivated and then mechanized in the 1970s because of the growing demand for perfumery in the Grasse region. Today livestock is no longer bred on the Albion plateau: lavender is grown everywhere; it even grows wild by the side of the road in this dry limestone soil.

WE WORK AS A FAMILY

we want to continue to pass on our traditions and passion to future generations. Lavender is not just a crop or an industry, it represents the story of a land and its people. It is the only plant that grows easily on the plateau and it is important to have a plant well adapted to the soil, that can grow in the wild, and cared for by us.

A STRONG COMMITMENT TO THE PDO STANDARD

I met L'OCCITANE through the SCA3P cooperative in 2009. L'OCCITANE was looking for a quality lavender and the cooperative suggested they came and met me and my farm. L'OCCITANE is part of the Olfactory Committee and we work with them on this committee. It is in charge of checking the different batches of essential oil against olfactory criteria before giving them the PDO label. It needs to smell of lavender to be called PDO lavender!

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