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Le Jardin des Estreys : Social integration and ecology in the same basket

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes - Polignac
Access to employment

Growing organic vegetables so that destitute people can reintegrate into society is the challenge taken up by the non-profit association Jardin des Estreys. It’s a bet that it appears to have won in part since in 2009, half the apprentice farmers who participated in the social integration workshop found permanent or temporary employment.



The Jardin des Estreys, located in Polignac and Langeac in the center of France, is “a social integration workshop based on organic farming”, explains Georges Hantz, the association’s director. “We comply with the charter of the Réseau Cocagne”.

A well recognised french charter for bringing together four major principles: social and vocational integration for people in difficulty (handicapped workers, the unemployed, single parents, etc.); raising organic vegetables; selling the vegetables in a member network and joining the local organic agriculture industry. Following these principles to the letter, the team at the Jardin des Estreys offers integration contracts (from six months to a year) to some thirty persons in difficulty. “Their experience at the Jardin des Estreys is a pathway to stable employment,” notes Georges Hantz. “We try to make them understand that to succeed, you have to take risks and advance.” To do this, you must put your shoulder to the grindstone: working the field, preparing baskets and delivery offer many opportunities for the employees aged 18 to 55 (of which 40% are women) to sample several careers. Experiences that help them define a career objective and gain self-confidence...

Financial resources and skills for the garden

Part of the assistance for the project from the VINCI Foundation in 2008 was financial, as Hantz notes, “As a result we had significant resources to improve our tools and purchase appropriate materials.” The Jardin des Estreys also benefitted from support in the form of skills, as Jean-Pierre Gallien, work supervisor at the Eurovia agency (subsidiary of the VINCI Group) in Puy-en-Velay and sponsor of the association explains: “I offer them technical advice and direct them to appropriate solutions for work operations like road construction and building approaches.” Assistance that is greatly appreciated by the garden’s members: “With it, we improved our workshops,” the director acknowledges. The association now daily delivers baskets to 245 families in the region and is preparing to open a third site.

February 2010 © 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.