David Caumette saved the family farm, in the southwest of France, by transforming it into an inn where he offers his guests a show. His book, which recounts this adventure, inspired the film currently in cinemas.
Swapping his overalls for the costume of a show presenter, a farmer from southwestern France saved the bloodless family farm by transforming it into a cabaret that even inspired a book, then a film. “We amaze both the pupils and the taste buds, that’s the magic formula of the Folies fermières!“, enthuses David Caumette, 39, contemplating the hundred spectators seated at his home, at the first “cabaret on the farm” in France, in the Tarn department near Toulouse.
The success of themagical formula» was however far from obvious in 2007. With a heavy heart, his parents were preparing to sell the animals raised on these lands where the family has been established for more than half a century. Their son David then left his position as operations manager of an agricultural high school to “save the farm“.
This hyperactive developed a multitude of projects there: polyculture, shop of local products, farm-inn, before arriving in 2013 at his model “ABC“:”A for Agriculture, B for Producers’ Shop and C for Cabaret“.
Good plates and a magical show
The physically imposing farmer, passionate about rugby, gradually takes on the role of impresario for the magicians, dancers and singers who come to animate the performance hall built on his land. The sense of celebration therefore, but also that of identity: before the entry of the artists several afternoons a week, David embarks a hundred visitors aboard his “tractor trainto introduce them to his farm.
In a cheeky tone, he tells the story of his family, describes his daily life as a breeder of cattle, poultry, pigs and sheep, declines the breeds of his cows and embellishes the whole thing with schoolboy jokes that hit the bull’s eye. an audience largely made up of retirees.
At lunchtime, the emphasis is on the short circuit. “We make meals with 80% of the products served that come from less than 50 km away“, he says. Then he slips, his eyes sparkling: “It’s a show on the plate: local products served by the producers themselves. It’s as if, at the National Library, Proust came to sign his book for you.»
Then comes the show, whose numbers change every year and make the particularity of the place, on the edge of Garrigues, a small village of 270 inhabitants about thirty kilometers from Toulouse. “We really defend a concept, an idea, and we are all in agreement with that“, assures Anaïs Comes, one of the two dancers who followed a classical course before joining the Folies fermières team in November 2021.
From the French-cancan to the French variety through magic numbers, the public finds the essential elements of the genre and rushes to attend. “It’s very well thought out, there is no downtime during the day and I appreciated that he presented his tractors and animals to us before a very good meal.“, rejoices Annie Respaud, 69, from Ariège, a department bordering Spain.
Farm Folies by David Caumette
David, who told his story in The Farm Foliesa book published in 2019 by Éditions du Rocher, is delighted to display “full for the next two months, and already for New Year’s Eve“. The concept has even seduced the cinema: a feature film based on the story of the farm-cabaret was released in May and accumulated 137,661 admissions in four weeks.
This comedy, with many similarities to reality, only partially transcribes the originality of the adventure undertaken by David and Lætitia, his wife. The Tarnais was touched by the emotion of farmers who came to see it after the first screenings of the film Farm Folies: “They tell me they are crying with joy because I really understood agriculture. But I tell them no, that I did the agriculture that seems fairest to me, my grandfather’s agriculture.»
This entrepreneur, proud to have created 15 jobs in fifteen years, wants to take advantage of his media coverage to also show that more local agriculture and food are possible. “The closer the producer gets to the consumer, the fewer intermediaries there are, and the more chance there is of saving this sincere, local and authentic agriculture.he concludes jubilantly.
Farm Folies by Jean-Pierre Améris in 2022, based on the book by David Caumette, with Alban Ivanov, Sabrina Ouazani, Michèle Bernier, Guy Marchand…