Pending the results of the ongoing 2020 agricultural census due out in the course of 2021, it is worth glancing at the 2010 and 2000 censuses (Source : AGRESTE – DRAAF PACA – Recensements Agricoles 2010 et 2000)
Compared to its neighbouring villages (Oppède, Lacoste, Gordes, Bonnieux, Maubec …) ,
► has the most working units (55)
► shows the smallest drop in number of units (only -1)
► features a steady count of operating hectarage (519 in 2010 / 621 in 2000).
Agricultural activity can thus be said to be sizeable and stable in terms of both the number of units and cultivated land area.
Also noteworthy is the number of units designated as organic or « high environmental value ». Respecting the environment is uppermost among the concerns of our local farmers.
Which crops ?
Wine, obviously : the vineyards are everywhere for the eye to see! ! The Luberon quality and origin label AOC makes up the lion’s share of all local farming but let us not forget :
Table grapes that are entirely hand-picked and packed on site. There are two main varieties in Menerbes : Alphonse Lavallée (large sweet black grape) and particularly the Hamburg Muscat (medium-sized sweet and very tasty black grape), recognized as one of the best table grapes, it now has its own quality and origin label : AOC Muscat du Ventoux.
To be noted : the Vaucluse department is the top muscat producer in France, providing 70% of national output (women 20 000 tonnes)
There are two types of cherry grown in Menerbes.
The table cherry with varieties such as Burlat, Folfer … and the candy cherry grown for the candied fruit market, a speciality of the town of Apt.
In springtime it is impossible not to stop in the region to admire the beautiful white cherry blossom.
The olive tree
There has been a strong revival of olive tree cultivation in the area. In the past, this tree was planted to stabilize terraced stone wall banks, or to adorn local gardens. Today there are many orchards that are destined for olive oil production for the local market. Consequently there are quite a few oil presses in the area.
Market garden produce (salad, fennel, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, …) and fruit trees (mainly apricots).
This farming is operated by a few organic units that sell their produce locally : small holding sale, Coustellet market, the producers’ shop “Naturellement Paysan” in Coustellet or contracts with trademarks such as Biocoop.
It is also worth mentioning the Lavandin, demand for which is fairly strong and is creating interest in the farming community. Its cultivation is growing in the Vaucluse and in Ménerbes.
All these crops mark the Menerbian countryside as the seasons go by, with the white cherry blossom of April, the lavender blue of June, and the dominant vine green from March to October. Thanks to its farmers, Ménerbes can be proud of its motto : “A vessel of stone in an ocean of vine”.
While many farmers in Menerbes are reaching retirement age, there is a sense of renewed interest in farming among young Menerbians who are either training or opening up in the activity. This is a huge opportunity for the village. It should never be forgotten that Menerbes and its beauty owe much to the beauty of its agricultural landscapes.