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Home   >  The local economy  >  Agriculture
Agriculture in Orsières
A mere 3% of the workforce are responsible for the upkeep of the farming lands

Growing strawberries and raspberries from the 50’s to the 80’s was an important source of extra revenue for many families. Today these crops have largely disappeared.

Aromatic and medicinal plants, mostly used for infusions and sweets, are a new way to supplement incomes. Cattle and sheep breeding hold pride of place in the local agricultural economy. Despite the lie of the land and the peculiar distribution of land ownership, numerous farmers mow the fields and pasture their livestock right up to the limits of the forests and the glaciers.

Three successive land ownership reorganisations have allowed the construction of access roads and irrigation facilities which have helped the mechanisation using machines developed especially for the Alps. The high price of these machines is a heavy drain on the farmers’ finances.

Grouped together in “consortages” (a form of cooperative) for dairies and the high summer pastures and “syndicats” (a farmers union) for livestock, the farmers endeavour by their labours and their know how, to make the countryside naturally attractive.

Used sensibly, following the seasons, the agricultural heritage offers residents and tourists a vast green area in which to enjoy life.

Helped, it is true, by appropriate and well targeted subsidies, they bring healthy high quality food to our tables.

photo : Pierre Pouget

Local produce
Five gourmet specialities from local producers
From the local dairies

  • Authentic raclette cheese from unpasteurised milk.

    A raclette cheese is a semi-hard mountain cheese made from whole unpasteurised cow’s milk. Soft and agreeable when young, it matures into a stronger cheese if kept. Differing methods of production and a longer or shorter maturing times allow for different types of cheese to be made suitable either for raclettes, for eating or for rebibes (thin slices of well matured cheese).

  • Sérac

    Sérac is made from the whey which remains after the cheese has been made. It is white, has a fresh taste and fine texture. The fat content varies according to the amount of milk or cream added to the whey. Sérac is eaten shortly after being made.

    From the local shepherds

  • Lambs from the high pastures

    From the medicinal plant growers

  • Infusions by Valplantes
  • Sweets, pastilles and lozenges by Ricola

    Photo: Alphonse Darbellay

  • Livestock syndicates
    To keep old traditions alive and to forge new links between the general population and the lands that feed them, the local farmers organise :
    • every four years, in April, a traditional cow fight (with cows of the Hérens breed) in Orsières ;
    • every autumn, in September, the "Désalpe" in La Fouly when the cows come down from the mountain pastures.

    photo : Alphonse Darbellay

      Syndicat de la race d'Hérens - Catogne 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Syndicat de la race d'Hérens - Châtelet 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Syndicat de la race d'Hérens - Ferret 1943  Praz-de-Fort   (Details)
      Syndicat de la race d'Hérens - Moay 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Syndicat de la race d'Hérens - Orsières 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Syndicat d'élevage bovin de la race tachetée rouge 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Syndicat des ovins 1937  Orsières   (Details)
    Désalpe [Bernadette Rausis]
    Désalpe [Bernadette Rausis]
    Désalpe [Bernadette Rausis]
    Désalpe [Bernadette Rausis]
    Agriculture Commission
    The agriculture commission is responsible for:
    Dealing with subsidies :
  • Livestock insurance 
  • Insemination 
  • Rural buiilding 

    Improvements to alpine cowhouses and dairies

    Collaborating with the Commune's representatives for land ownership regroupment.

    Studying ways of improving the local agricultural economy

  • photo : Alphonse Darbellay

    Conseil communal
    Copt Jean-Marc (Details)
    Agriculture, Aménagement du territoire & Environnement
      Remaniement parcellaire 1937  Orsières   (Details)
      Service de vulgarisation 1937  Orsières Send E-mail ! (Details)
    Projet de développement régional
    Plantes médicinales