[Fermes d’Avenir] Horticulture setup with a community

Context of the implementation

After several disappointments with various organizations (SAFER, Chambers of Agriculture) in the search for agricultural land, Florent and Sylvie decided to respond to a call for tenders launched by the municipality of Pussay (Essonne). The first steps are taken in 2012 and the first contact is allowed through the intermediation of the Abiosol IDF cluster.

Initially exploited by a wheat farmer, the land was taken over by the former city council, which then planned to turn it into a supermarket or cut it down to build pavilions. In 2012 a new majority was elected in the municipality that wanted to change course. The municipal team then surrounds itself with technical consultants and makes an offer in the form of an announcement. The aim of the project is to use the land to develop a horticulture project in organic farming.

After responding to the call, Sylvie and Florent attend multiple meetings with local elected officials for about 5 months. The goal was to remove all the obstacles that stood in the way of their settlement in peasant agriculture.

Some versusAdvice

Encourage elected officials to surround themselves with subject matter expertsns relating to the agricultural sector

Without judgment, it is important to keep in mind and accept the fact that, in general, local elected officials have no agricultural experience.

Greenhouse crops

On the other hand, each region or department has very competent structures and associations in this area. They are different depending on the region. One can, for example, mention Farms of the Future, Land of Connections, CIVAM, Fields of the Possible or even ADEAR. These structures are able to come and advise the local authorities so that they can formulate a credible offer and thus put the project managers in the best conditions.

Even if a community has a desire to help create itself, that doesn’t mean it has the skills to do so.. They should be encouraged to contact the facilities mentioned above. In short, we must help them help us!

Don’t commit yourselfer no lease

Means of installation creation of a farm. To be able to create a farm it is absolutely necessary to know how to carry it forward over time.

The creation of an agricultural company requires more or less heavy investments depending on the type of project. These are essential expenses for starting the project. In almost all cases, the bank loans are among the first sources of financing. It will then be necessary repay them, in addition to the annuities, in the years or decades following installation. For the sustainability of the company be sure to use the land for the long term it is therefore a sine qua non.

Therefore, for the success of the project it will be necessary to obtain a real rural agricultural lease. The rent will be a protection against a possible transfer or reallocation of the land by the elected officials of the municipality. The longer the lease, the safer the installation will be. A minimum duration of 9 years is acceptable. An 18 or 25 year lease or even a professional lease will be even more beneficial.

Florent advisesbe uncompromising on this aspect. According to him, he could not have obtained a loan from the banks to invest in a warehouse if he had not had a lease.

Have access to water e electricity

Cultivated fields

First, remember that water can come from different sources:

  • City water that the municipality makes available to the gardener;
  • Recovery consequence of rainwater;
  • Access to a drilling.

For Fiorentino, Under no circumstances should you enter into partnership with a community until the water issue has been resolved. In fact, it happens that some authorizations for the exploitation of water resources take several years to be issued. Since the cultivation of vegetables requires water, some types of production are impaired if irrigation is not sufficient. Furthermore, this recommendation is all the more true as the climate is changing and getting drier.

Bound to waterelectricity:

  • Irrigation mainly requires the use of pumps that run on electricity. If the source is a well, without electricity it is not possible to irrigate.
  • Note that sometimes, some plots offered by the communities are far from the city and may not have electricity. Florent advises the project promoters verify that access to electricity is available.
  • Finally, electricity may be needed for other activities such as storing vegetables in cold storage.

Involve the community in marketing and communication

Self-made tool

The community has a vested interest in making the project work. How come ? Because she will be politically associated with it.

Many actions are available to them. You can for example helps create an AMAP (Association for the Maintenance of Farming Agriculture) in the territory, to create a direct sales shop or to provide access to the provision of the collective catering. Furthermore, with this type of support, we can also speak of a virtuous circle, since the elected will feel all the more involved in your project.
Communities also have good media : a Facebook page, annual or semi-annual letters, public posts, etc. In the case of the Sapousse FarmFlorent and Sylvie noted that many AMAP members had come through the community media.

Communities can also be involvedevent planning aimed at raising public awareness on agri-food issues. In this case, the farmhouse itself is the ideal place to host this type of event. It is a winning bet for horticulturists because there is the satisfaction for the guest of being part of the initiative as well as making the company known to the citizens of the area.

Before s’inshigher, take the time to see different models

Agricultural production is a complex activity subject to many multifactorial constraints. In fact, therefore, there is no model that works, but one multitude of modelseach suitable for a particular context.

In general, time becomes a scarce commodity once installation has begun. You must therefore take advantage of the time available when you are not yet installed to see a variety of different models (live soil system, more intensive AB, etc.). You can then build a farm that will look more like you.

under the full article: Horticulture Installation with a Community – Triple Performance

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