He swaps his overalls for Mr. Loyal’s costume: a farmer turns his farm into a cabaret show to save his finances

A Tarn farmer swapped his work overalls for Mr. Loyal’s suit and saved the bloodless family farm by turning it into a cabaret that even inspired a book and then screened a movie for a month. “We amaze both the students and the taste buds, that’s the magic formula of the foils fermières!”David Caumette, 39, raves about the hundred spectators sitting in his house at the first “cabaret on the farm” in France.

However, the success of the “magic formula” was far from obvious in 2007.Death to the soul, his parents were preparing to sell the animals bred on this land, where the family has been based for more than half a century. Her son David then left his position as manager of an agricultural high school to “save the farm”.

This hyperactive person developed a variety of projects there: polyculture, shop with local products, farm-inn before arriving at his “ABC” model in 2013: “A for agriculture, B for the producer’s boutique and C for cabaret”.

short circuit

The physically imposing farmer, who loves rugby, gradually takes on the role of impresario for the magicians, dancers and singers who come to enliven the performance hall built on his land.

The feeling of celebration, but also that of identity: several afternoons a week, before the artists move in, David embarks a hundred visitors on his “tractor train” to let them discover his farm.

In a cheeky tone, he tells the story of his family, describes his everyday life as a cattle, poultry, pig and sheep farmer, lists the breeds of his cows and embellishes the whole thing with school jokes that go down well with the audience, mostly pensioners. At noon, the short circuit is in the foreground. “We make meals with 80% of the produce served coming from less than 50km away,” he says.

“It’s a show on the plate: local produce personally served by the producers. It’s as if Proust had come to the National Library to sign his book for you”, he slides.

We’re really defending a concept

Then comes the show, the number of which changes every year and is the particularity of the site on the outskirts of Garrigues, a small village of 270 inhabitants about thirty kilometers from Toulouse.

“We’re really defending a concept, an idea, and we all agree on that,” assures Anaïs Comes, one of the two dancers who completed a classical course before joining the Folies fermières team in November 2021.

From the French cancan to the French variety through Magic Numbers, audiences find the essential elements of the genre and rush in.

“It is very well thought out, there is no downtime during the day and I really appreciated that he showed us his tractors and animals before a very good meal”, says Annie Respaud, 69, from Ariège.

peasant tears

David, who told his story in ‘Les Folies Fermières’, a book published by Éditions du Rocher in 2019, is happy to show he is ‘full for the next two months and already for New Year’s Eve’.

The concept has even seduced the cinemas: a feature film based on the story of the peasant cabaret was released last May and recorded 137,661 admissions in four weeks.

This comedy with many similarities to reality only partially reflects the originality of the adventure undertaken by David and Laetitia, his wife.

The Tarnais was touched by the emotions of the farmers who visited it after the first screenings of the film “Les Folies fermières”. “They tell me they cry with joy because I really understood farming. Dad.”

This entrepreneur, who is proud to have created 15 jobs in fifteen years, wants to use his media coverage to also show that more local farming and food is possible.

“The closer the producer gets to the consumer, the fewer middlemen there are and the greater the chance of saving this sincere, local and authentic agriculture”, he claims.

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