To be a salt farmer is not only to harvest salt.

A good salt farmer must hold the "secret of water". They must know how to develop, maintain and operate the marshes and stay attentive to the weather to regulate daily water flows between basins.

The transfer of water into and between the basins is not the result of chance but rather a know-how, transmitted from generation to generation. Composed of three large sets of clay ponds of different sizes and depths, the salt marsh is a subtle system of communicating vessels. The seawater flows slowly from the vasais to the swamp field, passing through the mountains. The combined action of wind and sun allows it to evaporate until it crystallizes in the saunant areas. The water thus passes from 30 to 250 grams of salt per liter.

All this work is not only dependent on the weather conditions (the sun and the wind are allies of the salt worker, while the rain can compromise his work) but also the talent of the salt worker; true master builder of his marsh.

Traditionally salt workers were also workers on the land: winemakers, market gardeners. Salt was a rather complementary activity.

Le métier de saunier et le travail à la lousse© 2017 - © Julien Roche

If formerly, we were salt worker from father to son, today, the young salt workers come from different geographical, professional and social horizons. Since the mid-90s and as part of the "restart" of the marshes, a new type of salt appears: the mono-active saunier. Thanks to a degree program, young people from various backgrounds create their own agricultural business based on the exclusive productions of Sel Marin and Fleur de Sel. A training center for salt producers exists for the 3 traditional sea salt production sites. Opened in 1979, for the Guérande salt workers, it was then opened in 1995-96, to the producers of Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré.

This new farm manager now works alone or with the help of seasonal workers. These young salt workers bring a new dynamic both at the level of the activity and within the cooperative. This revival could have existed thanks to the complicity of the Ancients who knew how to transmit their know-how.

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