Name of organisation
De la ferme au quartier
Saint-Etienne, Loire Department, France / Local
Type of organisation
Collaborative Short Food Supply Chain (SFSC), Sustainable Public Food Procurement (SPFP)
short food supply chains, collaborative food networks, sustainable public sector food procurement
Who is De la ferme au quartier?
De la ferme au quartier is an initiative that looks to develop territorial, circular and fair food chains in the Saint-Etienne region (Loire), by facilitating cooperation between actors within the food supply chain.
As a short circuit similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), its organisational method allows several hundred families to access quality products from local, peasant farming. The prices are both remunerative for the farmers and affordable for consumers. Through its direct sales system, the project offers a fair remuneration to producers who practice environmentally friendly peasant agriculture, without the use of GMOs.
The objective of the project is to preserve local peasant agriculture, which is endangered by central purchasing agencies that impose sales prices below cost of production, and do not allow producers to make a living from their work.
The organisation of the project is governed by a board (Conseil d’Administration), who sets the goals and priorities of the organisation, as well as drives decisions involving producers, consumers and the staff team. Consumers who are part of the initiative provide guidance on their needs and support logisitical operations to distribute products as volunteers. This work is done alongside farmers from several different sectors, to ensure a balance between price, quality and availability that works for everyone.
There is a salaried team of employees who manage customers, stock, purchasing, prepare orders and take care of other tasks to ensure the business continues to run successfully.
Who do De la ferme au quartier work with and how do they do it?
The organisation is made up of local producers, local consumers (who also volunteer), distributers, processors and a staff team. They collaborate also with local authorities, local shops and business, and other networks of actors. This cooperation allows each actor to utilise their skills and channel the resources of all these structures towards implementing common roadmaps.
In turn, this facilitates fundraising as De la ferme au quartier has moremore impact on public authorities, tand is able to mobilise better the various actors in the area. Joining forces allows these actors to take a non-competitive approach, rather than dividingstructures and individuals, and wastinga lot of energy competing with each other. Instead, actors involved in De la ferme au quartier multiply their means and resources to relocalise the food chain.
The members of the project live in one of the poorest areas in France, in a territory that has suffered greatly from deindustrialisation. Nevertheless, the Saint-Etienne metropolitan area is the area in France where the number of square metres of organic shops per inhabitant is among the highest. Despite low incomes, quality food remains an important concern. Saint-Etienne is also France’s 13th largest metropolis, and therefore has significant leverage on collective and commercial catering. There are no specific food aid policies in the area for people experiencing poverty. However, one of the priorities of the Territorial Food Project (or Projet alimentaire territorial, PAT) is food aid for the most disadvantaged. Such schemes should appear in the months/years to come.
What are De la ferme au quartier’s main challenges?
De la ferme au quartier is dependent on collaboration and cooperation, which is not a common practice in many operations, and therefore conflicts do arise. The project uses conflict resolution methods and takes a long-term view to gradually align roadmaps for the project and individuals.
COVID-19 had a very significant impact on the business activity, in particular at the beginning of the pandemic when conditions were very difficult, especially for dealing with the sudden increase in orders. The pandemic, and the disruption of industrial food value changes, had a beneficial effect on food sales, but it also put the team and the governance structure to the test.
After this initial economic upturn, De la ferme au quartier is now seeing a slump in sales and the whole ecosystem is affected. As we come out of the pandemic, consumers’ habits are once again changing and there is not enough insight today to be able to fully understand.
There is a need to find additional financial resources to support the work on the ground to create territorial relationships and networks of collaboration. These resources are often limited, and therefore it is also important to improve the advocacy strategy of projects like De la ferme au quartier to better access funding opportunities. Furthermore, by developing sales volumes, it will allow a minimum of economies of scale and circularity, improving efficiency of the food chains, and allow both competitive prices and fair remuneration.
The initiative has also identified training and capacity building needs, particularly in: conflict resolution methods, advocacy strategies, strategies to unblock public orders, technical-economic models of the territorial food chain (market prices, evolution of production/processing systems, logistic models, etc.), experience sharing, evolution of public policies, communication and mobilisation strategies for the general public, and methods to stimulate cooperation.
What are the priorities for the De la ferme au quartier?
Environmental issues are at the core of the work in terms of agricultural production: peasant agriculture aims to reconcile quality production, preserving scarce resources, promoting technical and decision-making autonomy, and dignified remuneration for work. In addition, the relocalisation of food system and the circular economy that we are putting in place contribute to a reduction in environmental impacts and a better use of natural resources.
This helps working towards producing quality products accessible to the greatest number of people, creating a fulfilling and peaceful working environment, ensuring social inclusion, and the future of farming.
It is important to build a fair value chain (remunerative for workers, accessible for consumers) and remove the technical obstacles in the various links of the chain to ensure and promote quality food for all.