On one hand, in France, almost half of the farmers will retire in the next ten years and few young people plan to replace them. However, the food production system must be more resilient and the health crisis we are currently experiencing has only confirmed this observation. It turns out that the peasant appears to be an essential actor in the resilience of our territories. On the other hand, more and more young people in "search of meaning" wish to engage in the agroecological transition and "to learn by doing". So how do you bond?
It is on the basis of this observation that Opaline and Sarah decided to create the School of Traveling Agroeconomics which offers a one-year personalized course for young people wishing to enrich their studies. This year aims to learn ecological agriculture by experience, by getting involved in farmers' projects.
The objective of this training is to train the new generation of peasants, ambassadors of agroecology, to help peasants in their transition project and to circulate knowledge between farms and between generations.
The course is divided into three axes:
- An educational path that mobilizes the intervention of experts, to acquire the skills essential to the agroecological transition
- A so-called "traveler" course where the student moves from farm to farm
- A collective journey, of a team united by collective intelligence.
The program begins in the farm school located in Brittany where the students co-construct their future project of course in the farms according to their desires for training in agroecology, their talents, and the needs of the land. Then the students move to different farms to carry out their courses for seven months. When they return to Brittany they collectively capitalize on their experience for a month and imagine the future impact they can have on their territory.
The main principles
- The traveling experience: agroecological innovations circulate through the student
- Territorial anchoring: the student catalyzes projects in a territory with a given impact
- Awareness: getting to know yourself better, identifying your strengths, maturing your professional project
- Companionship: intergenerational exchanges, sharing, creation of trust
- Practice: build skills through experience and produce nature
- Group intelligence: building impact projects together through a collective approach
The first class started in September 2020 and it welcomes 15 students who will have the chance to test the project. The goal that the project leaders have set for themselves is to achieve by 2030, the training of 100,000 farmer ambassadors of agroecology.
The idea is that the project spreads to other territories and that each student can in turn become a class guide and perhaps even create a School of Traveling Agroecology!
The project has several sources of funding including:
- Students who collectively create a citizen fundraiser and each pays part of the program.
- Local authorities (region, municipality, Europe) invest in future peasants - transition facilitators who catalyze the agroecological transition in the territory.
- The sponsors participate in the financing of the training, in return, the student helps the sponsor on a research theme or an agroecological project.
The cost of the training is € 7000 per year for each student.
For its launch, the project depends on donations and subsidies, but the project leaders hope within 5 years that the School will be able to be financed by business sponsorships, a contribution on the purchase of agroecological products, and a participation each year former students settled in agroecology.
As the project was launched very recently, it is too early to present convincing results. However, the beginnings of the project seem promising for the future. Indeed, 10 students were volunteered for the 2019 prototype, hundreds of articles and videos were published, 50 people joined the association, 150 farms are part of the network in France and abroad. It is an increasingly fertile ECOsystem that is developing!
For the future of the program, Opaline and Sarah have envisioned a deployment in three stages:
- 2020 - 2022: Host two prototypes of 15 students
- 2022 - 2024: Duplicate the project on a small territory, the objective being to train 200 young people
- 2025 - 2030: Scaling up the project in one region, the objective is that by 2030 around 5,000 students have been trained and that other regions have set up AVEs.
The little extra
The traveling school of agroecology has set up an inspiring podcast on the possibilities of carrying out agroecological projects, in order to allow us to develop skills on various themes (technique, learning, communication, personal development ...) or even of meet inspiring people who have embarked on agroecology and their entrepreneurial journey!
Keep your ears open, it’s here: https://anchor.fm/lysiak/episodes/1-Julie--jeune-paysanne-en-marachage-et-agroforesterie-eipdgd
If you want to support the project it’s here: https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/the-first-traveling-agroecology-school
This initiative sheet was written by Camille Tanné, LFC volunteer - November 2020.
Last modification : 22 Mar 2021.