From 15 to 17 March 2017, Terre de liens and RENETA, the French network of farm incubators, organised a European field visit to present various experiences of farm incubators in France and reflect upon the role these can play towards entry into farming, viable farming, farm succession, and local food systems.
Farm incubators are programmes enabling prospective farmers to experience their project in full size before getting started. It is a way to support entry into farming by providing technical support and mentoring, access to land and equipment, as well as local connections, while limiting risks. Farm incubators are particularly adapted for newcomers who do not have a farming background.
While a recent phenomenon (2007), farm incubators have developed rapidly, thanks to the involvement of farmers’ associations, rural development associations, vocational training centres, community-supported agriculture groups, local authorities, and others. There are now about 50 operating farm incubators, and 25 in project phase.
A European visit to learn from French experiences:
The fied visit gathered over 20 participants from nine European countries, coming from various farm incubators, community land trusts, farmers’ associations, or community supported agriculture.
The meeting included:
> general presentations of farm incubators, and their roles,
> exchanges on the synergies between farm incubators and: training, farm succession, access to land and local food policies,
> presentations of farm incubators from abroad: Point Vert, in Belgium and the Kindling Trust/ FarmStart in the UK
> visits to three test sites developed by farm incubators:
Find below several papers presenting French farm incubators as well as their role, potential and challenges:
RENETA, Overview of farm incubators in France, February 2017
RENETA, Farm incubators and Access to land, March 2017
Terre de liens, Articulating farm incubators and lasting access to land, February 2017
Terre de liens Pays de Loire, Case study on Coordinating support for land acquisition and a new farm business, December 2016
More to come soon on newcomers and farm incubators !