“La Ferme des Bertrand”, a poignant documentary on the transmission of knowledge within a farming family

“La Ferme des Bertrand”, a poignant documentary on the transmission of knowledge within a farming family

I grew up 100 meters from the Bertrand farm, in Haute-Savoie, in a hamlet in the Giffre valley. In 1972, when I was 4 years old, the director Marcel Trillat came to film the three Bertrand brothers for television. In 1997, for my first documentary, I wanted to tell the story of this family,” explains Gilles Perret, author of numerous documentaries (Stand up women, The social). “Twenty-five years later, I remain their neighbor and friend, and I took my camera back to tell the story of the transmission of the farm to the third generation. »

Transformations in the agricultural world, the meaning of work, the search for happiness, transmission and respect for the environment: the trajectory of the Bertrand family will resonate intensely with many spectators since this film evokes a whole section of our social history. “After the Occupation, it was a calamity. You had to do everything with nothing. Even though we improved our working conditions over the years, we had no wife or children. The atmosphere at the time was one of rural exodus. Starting a family in these conditions would have led to failure,” confided André, facing the camera, in 1997. And if the three valiant Bertrand brothers sacrificed their lives at work, it was to pass on a lasting tool to the next generation. “The elders did not work for nothing, it does the heart good,” notes Hélène in the documentary.

She is the mother of Marc, 39 years old, who has lived on the farm for sixteen years. Reached by telephone a few days before the film’s release, he told us: “This documentary shows the transmission of the value of work through the generations of our family, but it also highlights our developments. Our recent investment in a milking robot allows us, for example, to create a little more free time and reduce the pressure of the constraints specific to our profession. Because even if we rarely see us in the media, we farmers live in the same society as the rest of the French! We aim to make the best use of new tools to be as close as possible to the life model of others. »

Leave a clean nature

Could happiness therefore be found in an organized rhythm of life in the heart of natural meadows? Without a doubt. One of the uncles already said it in 1997: “In life, there is not only the satisfaction of money, there is also that of leaving nature clean and as it is. » An observation that has become the major concern of the young buyers of the farm. “Scholars in ecology, these farmers are very interested in environmental developments,” comments the director. Their level of agricultural knowledge – but also political and economic – is impressive. They work in a reasoned manner thanks to a high level of technicality. On the other hand, their Reblochon appellation zone implies specifications that respect the environment and the herd. This is far from being the case for the entire department, which is much more affected by construction in certain municipalities. These rules imposed in AOC allow farmers to work peacefully in a protected territory very affected by global warming.

Very noticeable in the Alps, climate change is having a much more rapid impact in the mountains than in the plains. This is evidenced by the drop in the level of streams and snow cover, the appearance of new parasites, drought… “Gilles’ film shows agriculture as we practice it: neither intensive nor excessively productivist, emphasizes Marc. It’s rare to see this sustainable agriculture that respects living things on screen. » And if, in a generation, a new film was made on the Bertrand farm, what would we see? “I hope that our children will resume the activity if possible,” continues Marc. As each summer becomes a little hotter, we will not be able to increase the number of animals. The future of the farm? If we want to continue working as a family, there will undoubtedly be a need to diversify into a new activity. » See you in twenty-five years on the big screen.

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