Au bout du Champ, the carotte and the stick ( At the End of the Field)
In a shop, I have an experience close to a dissociative identity disorder : paranoid interviewer, conspiracy fan of junk food, certified in bio chemistry, distant friend of a fantasy permaculturist, accomplice of multinational criminals ... At the crossroads between stalls and the announcement of the imminent extinction of our species, eyes fixed on a box of Kinder, I hesitate.
I met Joseph Petit, one of the co-founders of Au Bout du Champ. I write you here some answers that he gave me.
Created in 2013 At the end of the field makes a proposal that appeals to city dwellers, that of buying freshly picked seasonal fruits and vegetables, exclusively from the region.
Every morning, a team from Au bout du champ will pick up the harvest of the day from producers and then drop it at the various points of sale in Île de France. The farms are within a radius of 100 km around the point of sale. This short circuit allows you to have fruits and vegetables that taste because they are picked at maturity, and have not been refrigerated. The company is profitable for everyone.
Joseph Petit told me what led them to work in this way.
Starting in the 1960s, the PAC (Common Agricultural Management Policy of the European Union) organizes agriculture in France with the aim of stabilizing prices and increasing productivity in a context of increased competition with countries which do not do not have the same standards and production constraints. For this it pays aids and it is these aids that today allow farmers to live.
In parallel with the PAC, in a strong competitive context, large distributors also push to increase the quantity at the risk of losing quality. The agricultural landscape is changing. The monoculture spreads over very large areas, this change requires very expensive tools (which often involves borrowing for producers) and leads to a reduction in the workforce. Diversity disappears in favor of growing grain as far as the eye can see. Many market gardeners who did not take this path in the 60s and 70s turned to markets or disappeared.
At the end of the field collaborates with farmers who have remained market gardeners and practice agriculture "common sense", "good father" in the words used by Joseph Petit. Not a "reasoned" agriculture, a term that has often been used to justify intensive farming.
What makes a farming of common sense, a term that seemed to me rather subjective : the diversity, crop rotation, the smallest possible use of chemicals, the size of the farm, the number of employees, the land surface, because this complex and meticulous work is impossible to achieve on a very large scale. big surface. These are all criteria that allow ABDC to understand how market gardeners work with them. It is also the selection of the seeds, the soil, the freshness and especially the experience of the market gardener allow to have a good fruit or vegetable.
Some only of their producers are organic. They seek above all to offer products that have taste. But organic is not a guarantee of taste but exclusively that of a product that has not received synthetic treatment. Some organic practices can be harmful to nature. Copper, for example used as insecticide and natural pesticide, used in large quantities, is not always harmless, neither for the man nor for the nature. It also eliminates very badly and pollutes the water tables.
Joseph Petit, to whom I try to make recognize the role decried of the big distribution evokes the merit that it has to propose products at lower prices for those who do not have the sufficient budget to devote to organic products or quality premises. Consume with virtue, without the feeling of poisoning someone a little or starving others is still a luxury.
Recently, some farmers of large farms, aware that in the face of competition and without subsidies their activity is no longer profitable, begin to return gradually to a market gardening activity on a small plot of their surface.
At the end of the field surely offers a balanced proposal to a question today very complex about what we eat and the economic and ecological circuit to which we contribute.
The addresses of Au Bout Du Champ In Paris and Ile de France :
LEVALLOIS-PERRET 4, rue Camille Pelletan
PARIS 16, rue des Martyrs , 28, rue Daguerre, 98, rue Raymond Losserand, 20, rue des Dames, 118, rue Caulaincourt, 220, rue des Pyrénées