A new generation of farmers

By Misch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Alternatives to industrial agriculture are falling on fertile ground with more and more new and established farmers. Many budding farmers even find their way into a new industry through them. This is also the case for Ben Nicolay, who will not even dig up the soil in his market garden.

Ben Nicolay's vegetable garden near Prény, about 25 kilometres below Metz, is itself still a sprout. Eleven beds foreshadow the future market garden that is being created in the 30-year-old Luxembourger's "little garden of Eden", as he sees it himself. For about four months, the budding gardener has been living on this somewhat remote piece of land, where he is building his future, square metre by square metre, with his bare hands. He has dared to do what many dream of, but only few realise: Packed his things, left the familiar daily routine behind, and "did what he really wanted to do". Today, the one-man market garden where the Luxembourger wants to sell his products is within reach. He still daydreams, "but every day it's less dreaming and more planning, " he says as he turns off the irrigation system of his test beds. Here he puts the theory he learns at the Centre de Formation professionelle et de Promotion Agricoles in Courcelles-Chaussy into practice.

It is a far leap from his original studies in transcultural communication, which towards the end he "just did it to do it". He discovered gardening for himself early on in his grandmother's garden, but the penny finally dropped when he "really spruced up" his parents' garden during the pandemic. When he heard through an acquaintance that the 3.8-hectare piece of land was available, the decision was quickly made. In about three weeks, Ben now hopes to harvest his first heads of lettuce ─ the first of many that will later be sold in seasonal vegetable baskets.

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