Ensuring revenue for farmers by buying a vegetable basket from them every week... Montpellier residents have expressed their commitment by contract, joining AMAP (Association for Maintaining Rural Agriculture) in Montpellier’s Beaux Arts neighborhood, one of five locations in the city.
“The producer agrees to implement the means necessary to provide organic seasonal products,” explains Elodie Millet, one of the founders of the association created in 2009, now with 160 members.
People pay in advance to receive their baskets for six months. The grower comes to the Esplanade de la Musique in the Beaux Arts neighborhood twice a week to deliver the equivalent of about one hundred large vegetable baskets of 2.5 or 5 kg each. The association’s volunteers weigh the vegetables and fill the baskets.
“The basic principle of an AMAP organization is to rebuild ties between city dwellers and the rural world,” adds Clément Molla, a board member. “We are also ready to lend a hand directly at the farm.”
Volunteers for the highly participative association take care of everything except production.
With support from the AMAP team, Sebastien Soufflet’s production has grown little by little.
“We started in 2009 with four members and two baskets. Since then, we continue to grow alongside Sébastien,” says Elodie Millet.
Following a call-for-projects launched by Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, he was able to expand his operation by relocating to the Domaine de Viviers, just north of Montpellier in Clapiers, in March 2017.
“Land is quite difficult for young farmers to obtain,” highlights Elodie Millet. “Being able to lease those fields from Montpellier Métropole is a great opportunity.”
In February, the grower was able to hire his first full-time employee.
To diversify its baskets, the Beaux Arts AMAP enlisted a country baker who makes his own flour in Saint Mathieu de Tréviers and two egg producers in Saint Bauzille de Montmels. Maybe a cheese-maker will be next on the team. The price of success is that the waiting list for new members keeps growing.
“It also means that people are becoming aware,” adds Elodie.