In summer, Jean-Claude Muller and his co-workers are already to be found in the field at sunrise, watering the fruit and vegetables under cultivation before the heat arrives. Strawberries, cherries, mirabelles, apples, quinces, … the range of fruit produced on the "An Eim Néckels" holding in Contern is extensive. As is the assortment of vegetables on offer: potatoes, lettuces, cabbages carrots, onions, beetroot, … The plants are checked for pests – nurtured, one might say – and whatever is ripe is harvested.
In winter, Jean-Claude Muller and his wife Annick prepare the stored produce, for example potatoes, for sale. 100% of the farm's production is sold in Luxembourg. Various types of fruit are made into spirits in the holding's own distillery.
Why is it better to purchase regional produce?
Strawberries cultivated in Spain, for example, are picked before they are fully ripe, and are consequently of inferior quality, in terms of the elements that they contain, to their counterparts grown in the Luxembourg region. In the latter case, it is possible to wait for the right moment in time at which to harvest them, as they don't have to be transported over a distance of some hundreds of kilometres to the customer. "In terms of their taste, that makes a significant difference", says Jean-Claude Muller.
He is also aware of the social element involved in local production: "People wanting to work with their hands can find a job here in their home country – this is something that is not always easy in other industries and sectors in Luxembourg."
Regional cultivation of foodstuffs can also help to ease a certain dependence in respect of food supply – something that has been thrown into sharp relief by the coronavirus crisis. "Domestic production creates security. When borders are closed, and goods cannot be imported from abroad, it can guarantee the country's food supply for one or two weeks", says Jean-Claude Muller.
Regionally cultivated fruit and vegetables are only harvested when they are ripe. That is when they are at their best in terms of the vitamins, minerals and plant substances that they contain.