These babies have green thumbs but older than the incubator age. However, they spend an average of two years there. Time to get to grips with the reality of the field before setting out or not in the wide field. At 43, Frédéric Roger is one of those agricultural “broods”, farmers who test their farming project in real conditions without financial risk. Two years ago, the 40-year-old, a former executive in the youth animation sector, joined the Viviers à Clapiers estate, at the gates of Montpellier, an “agricultural test area” among the fifty-five spread all over the place. in France and the planned fortnight.
The principle of these incubators in the fields, set up by public or private actors (communities, agricultural education establishments, activity cooperatives, associations, etc.)? Offer land, equipment, entrepreneurial and technical support and easy access to marketing networks to people not from the agricultural sector or in professional retraining.
“Outside family settings”
Alongside eight other apprentice farmers, Frédéric Roger has a one-hectare plot of land on the Viviers estate (irrigation and greenhouses), on which he has chosen to grow organic vegetables and berries. Others have embarked on animal husbandry, beekeeping or the cultivation of aromatic plants. The land, which belongs to the Montpellier agglomeration, is operated by an activity cooperative, Terracoopa, which accommodates promoters of agricultural projects. In exchange for an annual contribution of 1,500 euros, the future peasants each work independently on their plot, and can accumulate their unemployment benefits, for example, with the first profits from their activity.
In France, more than one in three farmers who start out did not grow up on a farm or do not take over the family farm – “non-family managers”, as they are called in the jargon of agricultural statistics -, hence the importance of supporting these neo-peasants. Most of the set-up assistance systems, in particular the “young farmer grant”, are limited to financial assistance and require criteria of age, experience, farm size, etc. which are not well suited to these new profiles. .
“From the romantic idea of living from working the land to the actual exercise of the profession and its impacts, in terms of income, family life, there is sometimes a chasm” – Jean-Baptiste Cavalier, host of the Reneta network
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