Topic: Agro-ecological farmers’ cooperation for shared commercialisation and rural population access to healthy food: is living-lab a support ?
Keywords : Western Vosges (France); shared commercialisation; food reterritorialization; Living-lab
Cooperation designs between farmers regarding distribution activities are developing and take different forms, such as producers’ markets, farm drive-ins, or sometimes producers’ groupings to supply collective catering.
The initiative of the association « les Bios du Coin » illustrates this trend. This collective was created in 2013. Since a few years, it gathers 11 producers from the Western Vosges who develop a new form of distribution and marketing pooling of a wide range of products from agro-ecological farming. Their strategy relies on the objective to cover a rural zone through deposition points situated in farms or places which normally are not dedicated to the sale of those goods (for example a participatory citizen café). Thus, they want to give access to a rural population to locally produced and transformed organic food.
This initiative is set in a territory characterised by difficult social-economic conditions with high unemployment and poverty rates in the main village (22 and 23% respectively). The Western Vosges is classified as a rural revitalisation zone by the French Ministry for land planning. Short-distance marketing is rather underrepresented and mass farming production dominates.
Organic farming main trends do not circumvent mass production, specialised and long chain distribution logics. However, since a few years the territory has become the place for the rise of alternative initiatives, particularly the development of organic and local products.
Since 2017, the producers’ organisation is part of an agri-food living-lab (TEASER-Lab) on the territory. They share the common objective to construct a territorialised agri-food system supporting healthy food and agro-ecological practices.
With regards to its current development, the initiative “Bio du Coin” is a real opportunity to encourage and reinforce agro-ecological transition process within the territory. Still, community support appears as a main lever effect, even though communities struggle to take up such challenges, especially in deserted rural areas.
As a result, how can the Living-lab tool (which associates closely public, private, associative and citizen actors at equal status) allow the “Bios du Coin” initiative to reach its full potential in agro-ecological transition? On the contrary, what is the role of this dynamic of agricultural producers within the doers’ network that constitutes the living-lab? Those questions will guide our analysis throughout this contribution.