Jean-Louis Charbonnel has had a career that could serve as an example to everyone not to give up when you have passion and determination.
A native of the east of France, Jean-Louis Charbonnel’s career has been rather out of the ordinary. As a passionate lover of local heritage, old rocks, nature and our land, he dreamt of becoming a farmer, but his parents didn’t see that in their son’s future. Instead, Jean-Louis focused on his second passion, cooking. He entered a hotel management school and became the head waiter of a Michelin-starred restaurant and later a sommelier.
His desire to be a farmer continued, but setting up a family farm was impossible, so Jean-Louis moved to the Jura after getting the opportunity to take over a 120-hectare farm. A series of mishaps ensued and his neighbours did not help him to get established, so Jean-Louis sold off the farm and grew tired of facing animosity in the agricultural world. He changed tack and became a fishmonger in Besançon, feeling he had messed up his life and didn’t want to continue making mistakes.
However, his passion never left him. One day, he called the rural development and land improvement company to find an isolated farmhouse. His luck changed: he purchased the Louisot farm in the heart of Doubs, 65 hectares of fields in an area with an authentic history famed for its production of Comté cheese. This farm, bestowed its name by Charles V in 1525, welcomed this heritage enthusiast.
“In life, we always come back to our origins,” comments Jean-Louis. He settled on this farm with 25 dairy cows in a shed with 2 by 20 places. Milking is done twice a day with an annual quota of 115,000 litres. Production follows the specifications of organic farming.
This historic farm needed to be renovated and Jean-Louis decided to combine his passions to open his own farm inn offering table d’hôte dinners.
“What I love doing is handling the products from the start to the end, being independent and sharing everything.”
He wants to discover his heritage, his region. He cooks and serves the guests himself, while offering accommodation in 15 beds.
And what about the tractor that makes all of this possible? Since he started up, Jean-Louis has been working with the farm machinery dealer DISTAGRI in Maîche with a distinctive first purchase, an articulated tractor, to have more manoeuvrability in the buildings. Since then, he has bought a Valtra N134 HiTech 5 equipped with a loader. Valtra supports him in his daily work and the relationship with his dealer is essential. This tractor is perfect for handling bales and for silage and other crops. This N134 HiTech 5 has all the essential characteristics for a livestock farmer: compact size, a cabin with high visibility, good ergonomics and ease of use, great manoeuvrability and is guaranteed to start up every morning!
“For me, it’s a tool, like a tedder, a harvester… I get more excited about a cow than a tractor! “, says Jean-Louis.