In 2008, 5 friends, all newcomers to farming, start discussing a collective agricultural project focused on food autonomy. They aim to implement it through a combination of mixed farming, the production of a wide range of food produce, direct marketing and strong connections with the local community. In 2009, they start looking for land and are informed of the upcoming retirement of a couple of farmers on La Gorronière Farm.
The group is very well connected to many local farmers and organisations promoting alternative alternatives. They however do not have the financial capacity to buy the land. While finalising their agricultural training, they undertake a long process to clear all administrative and financial obstacles for buying the farm. They benefit in particular from the support of the local CIVAM association, and of the local AFOCG association, as well as of the local TDL branch. In 2011, TDL then acquire 38 hectares of land plus a series of building (farm house, a bread oven, a dairy processing unit, a storage room for vegetables, 2 sheds, a guest house, etc.) for €335,000. It rents the land, under a 40-year environmental lease, to Radis & Co, the farmers’ cooperative. Besides, the land acquired by TDL, Radis & Co also rent an additional 4 hectares of land.
Thanks to such a farming collective, the farm now hosts 4 activities: a vegetable grower, a cereal grower and baker, a dairy farmer and a cheese-maker). Each farmer is in charge of its own sector but they help each other when extra-help is needed and replace each other during holidays and weekends.
Radis &Co now provides:
120 boxes of vegetables to CSA groups, 200 to 250 kg of bread, dairy products and 130kg of yoghurt per week. They sell their produce to:
* CSA groups: vegetables (80% of the production), dairy products and bread;
* 2 Biocoop organic shops: dairy products
* collective catering: 20% of the vegetable production
* deposit of vegetables, dairy products and bread in the local grocery shop and neighbouring farms (which use them to complement their CSA boxes).
Radis & Co has also contributed to revitalise the area:
* they have organised a selling point of farmers’ products in the village, to which they and other farmers bring some of their production,
* they are hosting cultural and educational events on the farm,
* one of the members of Radis & Co was elected as part of the municipal council during the last elections and active in fostering many local projects,
* they have started, together with others, the establishment of a craft and service area, established on farmland (outside of the farm), which is wholly reversible (i.e. no soil sealing, lightweight buildings).
By entering farming as a collective, these farmers have reduced the risks and benefited from increased support (mutual support, advice, external help...). They are perfectly embedded in the local community to which they provide local and quality food. Such an experience is very inspiring for the transmission of large farms, entry into farming of newcomers, self-sufficiency and local food distribution systems.