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Cyril Arsac and Au Fil de l’Eau: a heartfelt plunge

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes - Aurec sur Loire
Access to employment

Cyril Arsac is head of operations with Sogea Rhône-Alpes (VINCI Construction). Born into a family of farmers, he knows the ‘value of working the land’. In 2014, he decided he wanted ‘a strong human experience’ by sponsoring the association Au Fil de l’Eau, a farm where market gardening rhymes with re-integration.



Perched 600 meters above sea level in the Auvergne mountains lie 3.6 hectares of land where 12 market gardeners work. Organic produce, short market chains, sale of fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. Welcome to Au Fil de l’Eau, an association working to re-integrate people through market gardening and part of the Jardins de Cocagne network. The employees are between the ages of 18 and 55; they left school at the age of 16 or have 2-year post-secondary diplomas, and all have had trouble finding jobs for the first time or returning to work. ‘The garden is an active support to get back into proper work habits, getting up in the morning, following orders,’ explains Pascale Savel, director of the association.
Down below, in Saint-Étienne, the Sogea Rhône-Alpes (VINCI Construction) agency, specialised in drinking water networks, has had a new head of operations since 2012, Cyril Arsac. Age 28, Cyril, who is kept busy by the responsibilities of his position, has not forgotten his roots and sponsors this association with conviction. ‘I live in the woods,’ he says with a smile, ‘not far from the market garden. I met the association’s president professionally and it was natural for me to sponsor her project.’

Greenhouses with purpose!

There are currently two large greenhouses, necessary for market gardening in high mountains, on the association’s land but ‘we need two more,’ asserts Pascale. Investments are underway thanks to the €20,000-grant from the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité. ‘We have acquired a refrigeration unit, set up on site to store the produce.’ As sponsor, Cyril visits the gardeners whenever he can. ‘It is a good springboard to get motivated again. Market gardening is a difficult job, a physical job. Plus, weeding a field of carrots is not immediately gratifying, but it provides structure for the next steps,’ he insists.

An alliance between the association, sponsor and students

‘We want to diversify and start growing aromatic and medicinal plants, but we need space for that,’ says Pascale Savel. Responsive, Cyril called on a group of approximately fifteen students from the École Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Saint-Étienne who, as part of a partnership with VINCI Construction France and the Foundation, have been working on the blueprint for a farm building since February. ‘This building will have space to prepare produce baskets and store tools and equipment, as well as a locker room and an office for the employees. For us, this sponsorship is above all about a transfer of Cyril’s skills, which will also help the professional plans of our employees seeking integration to allow them to discover different professions,’ says Pascale with enthusiasm. The sponsor also puts the association into contact with suppliers and enterprises in the VINCI group. Immersion internships and simulated job interviews are also in the pipeline. As a good sponsor, he takes a role, tailored to fit him, in Au Fil de l’Eau’s employees’ progress towards reintegration. ‘It is a gratifying human experience’. In the meantime, it is springtime in the fields and time to sow carrots, radishes and green peas!

August 2015 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.