Adrien Pelletier – Why all farmers or most farmers need to become seed breeders again

A conversation with Adrien Pelletier, farmer, breeder, and baker, about wheat, seeds, no till organic farming, why all farmers or most farmers need to become seed breeders again, and why it is really difficult to bake sourdough with traditional organic wheat seeds that are not breed for high productive farms.

Why Adrien want to start changing the world in the most difficult place, at home, which is a large industrial, mostly extractive, commodity wheat-growing region in France? Picture a sea of wheat, large relatively flat fields and no trees. He argues we are in the prehistoric area of organic farming, and there is so much to discover, especially around population wheats. We also learn about no till organic farming is the way to go (and super difficult).



Ferme d’Orvilliers, Adrien’s farm in France is a place where they grow wheat and other crops in big fields with little trees, aiming to change the world through sustainable farming practices.

“I travelled a lot, and I discovered with all the travels and all the people we met that there are a lot of things to do where you are, and in France, organic farming, the way of rethinking our way of farming and producing food, is mainly down from 20 years ago, when it was done in specialised areas where there were some cultural initiatives. On our farm, we are located in a very cropped area; it’s big fields, no trees in the fields, and, say, in our field, people are not connected to the food produced on the field.’’ – Adrien Pelletier

‘’For us, it was kind of a big deal to say, ‘Well, if we want to change a little bit the world, with our little arms, maybe it’s a good way to start where it’s the most difficult. And in this case, it was our roots, where we grew up when we were children.’’ – Adrien Pelletier


Farmers in the region are transitioning to organic farming to create a connection to the soil and a final product for consumers.

”Big fields. It’s like a wheat sea, no trees, a lot of wind, for instance, so planting trees to make the landscape better and all the positive impacts, we are reintroducing trees in the countryside; it’s a good aim too, so we’re trying to do that also. And then to be connected to the food produced in the place. That is a kind of revolution in our place; it’s not in other places, but in our region, it’s really a revolution, as you can drive hours and see big fields of cereal. It’s a kind of more intensive farming. So, having organic fields, you will be able to say, ‘Oh, this wheat, we will eat it next year, buying the bread at the shop here’. We create a connection to the soil, and this is very important for us as farmers because that makes sense, but also for the consumers and the people, the citizens living on the place.”

Adrien Pelletier


Organic bread farmers in France face challenges in sourcing high-quality wheat seeds for bread production due to the limited availability of suitable ancient varieties.

”We are lucky because in France, there are a lot of different ancient wheats, we can still find, but we tried here, the different varieties we could find. And there was a problem; we have kind of good soil here. So, the ancient varieties are not suitable for making production in good soil because they will fall down, they will have diseases, and so, the ancient wheat is good in a way for the processing, but for me, they weren’t good for the agronomic aspects, but also and mostly for the big deal that organic farming has to feed people. So, we have to produce. With this conclusion, we don’t have good genetics; we will have to create it. […] At the beginning of the 20th century, all the breeders were farmers. And now all the breeders are big multinational companies. So, the economic benefits the company would find in a breeding project like this will be nonsense because there is not a lot of money to do with that because it’s a niche market. So, the only way to find a solution is to let the farmers restart to be the breeders.” – Adrien Pelletier


The concept of “population wheat” in plant breeding highlights the importance of genetic diversity in a field of different wheat varieties.

”I’m talking mostly about wheat, because it’s not true for every plant. When you buy a variety of wheat, it will be the same. In French, we say clone; it’s the same material, the same genetic; on the field, you will see the same plant, genetically, no difference. In a population, you will consider that you and me are in a field with a lot of other humans, and we create a population with all the diversity; we are all humans. There is a wheat population; it’s only wheat, but there is a genetic difference in each plant, which makes that, we consider it’s a population, and this population will be able to change with different climatic changes and the different ways of tilling, harvesting, and farming this population.” – Adrien Pelletier


Koen and Adrien also talked about:

  • why we are in the pre historic area of organic farming
  • why Adrien started breeding seeds because he wanted to bake sourdough with traditional organic wheat seeds
  • why no till organic farming is the way to go (and super difficult)




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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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