Network of farmers : support of demonstration

Domain of activity
  • Analysis of practice
  • Animation of group
Objective of the tool/method Experience is at the basis of the construction of agro-ecological knowledge. Making the link with this concrete dimension is therefore a key element of the training process ; the idea is to show experiences rather than recipes, singular life course in a specific context rather than transferring models. Moreover, farmers often ask for exchanges between peers to envolve in their practices, enrich their knowledge, or even define joint experimentations. The creation of local exchange groups, at the level of a territory, can therefore meet these different needs. However, this raises the question of facilitating these exchange groups, the place of training organizations, and the possible links with other structures involved in these local dynamics. This fact sheet is not intended to give answers to these questions that need to be addressed at the local level ; it nevertheless aims to shed light on the value of such a dynamic and on the possible links to training. __Local exchange groups, for what ?__ Farmers often work in a rather isolated way without much connection with their peers, except in some cases (producer cooperative, agricultural equipment user, etc.). On the ground, this need for exchange "at the local level" is often expressed, as has been verified in the context of the process of collecting / valorizing agro-ecological knowledge accompanied by Geyser in the Regional Natural Parks of Provence. What seems to be lacking to farmers in certain territories is precisely a space of exchange to compare their experiences and work more collectively to improve their practices, apart from the organizational stakes. The establishment and facilitation of exchange groups at the level of small agricultural regions can meet this need. Depending on the level of commitment and interest of farmers, the exchange group can be either / or both a space for : - sharing of needs, which gives guidance to guide the work of collecting knowledge and the modalities of its valorisation, - pooling and confronting knowledge, which allows a collective analysis (on the principle of a crossing of looks, without seeking to validate / invalidate), - demonstrating, in the sense of opening his farm to share his practices, - defining collective experimentation (to test the relevance of certain knowledge).Thus, in the Camargue or in Queyras, these exchange groups made it possible to enrich and pool knowledge and develop proposals for measures within the framework of agri-environmental schemes. In the Luberon, they led to the implementation of experimental protocols on old cereals involving farmers and technical organizations. Such exchange groups can also play a very useful interface between education and nurturing the formation of concrete experiences. Trainers can rely on a network of farmers ready to share their experiences. But for such collaborations to be able to be built over time, the objectives, but also the role of the different actors, must be clarified as soon as possible. In particular, it is necessary to take into account the level of involvement of the different actors : - The training institution may participate : o as a simple player in the territory : this makes it possible, in particular, to better integrate local problems, practices and knowledge into the training curricula; o as animator of exchanges : this also positions him in a pro- active role of animation of the territory. - Students can be involved in a process of gathering / valuing local knowledge. - Farmers can invest in training on an ad hoc basis or more regularly. The terms of the partnership are to be based on a win / win principle, taking care of the interest of everyone to get involved in the exchange group : - Trainers can mobilize the network of farmers to meet the needs of the training (visit of farm, collective works, internship, ...) and rely on concrete experiences. - The farmers involved in the training are entitled to expect a counterpart (exchanges / advice on the conduct of a production, support for the realization of certain works, remuneration, ...).
Description of the tool __The conduct of local exchange groups__ The exchanges are to be structured at the scale of a small region / by way of production / on a specific topic, after some preliminary interviews which make it possible to specify the needs. Some recommendations for facilitating an exchange group - The word is first given to farmers who are willing to share agro- ecological knowledge. - The participation of agricultural advisers, researchers or motivated citizens can allow the crossing of looks. - Driving a local exchange group is on the same principle as a service for the collection of knowledge : identification of assumptions / topics to deepen. One can also begin by presenting briefly the elements already available to invite the assembly to complete.- - Keep in mind that it is also a question of responding to local needs : identifying them with the group beforehand and agreeing on the modalities that will make it possible to provide answers (exchanges in the room, visits to the field, experimentation with certain practices). An exchange group may meet on an ad hoc basis. It is important, however, to maintain a regular link with the members of the network in order to maintain their involvement in the process. The ideal is to plan a regular meeting / meeting, in line with the objectives set, the timetable for agricultural work and the availability of farmers.
Contact Jean-Luc Camapgne
Address 43700 CHASPINHAC
Author of the index card Marie-Laure Girault
Author structure Association Geyser