This Tuesday afternoon, only the hustle and bustle of the hutches and the cackling of the hens break the calm that reigns in the shed. Here, everyone seems to know their task by heart: Laureline carefully prepares the bottles for the lambs, Simon rakes the straw. “My favorite thing is taking care of rabbits!” confides for his part Leo with a discreet smile. For these young adults with a mental handicap, the agricultural world has become a familiar environment thanks to Bercail paysan.
The association, based in Gillonnay (Isère), allows them to spend two or three days a week at Ferm’Avenir, Romain Poureau’s farm. Made up of animals – 240 ewes, 250 hens and around a hundred rabbits – and 40 hectares of cultivated fields, labeled organic and minimally mechanized, it offers a wide range of activities that can be adapted to their pace, from collecting eggs to feeding animals, through the maintenance of enclosures. At the origin of this innovative proposal, three people from Isère who have joined forces and skills for the same fight.
The outdoor effect
The story of Bercail paysan was born, in 2016, from a need expressed by families, and more particularly by Martine Croisier, whose son has autism: “Like many others, he followed a chaotic school career and found himself without a work or home solution when entering adulthood.” This mother, a teacher in an agricultural high school, accompanied by her friend Anne-Françoise Berger, an accountant, and Raymond Riban, a farmer, then imagined a structure allowing contact with animals and the outdoors. The breeder, who is about to retire, knows an ideal place to welcome him: a site comprising an old family home, which he partly inherited, and his farm, which is just waiting to be taken over. .
The small team, formed as an association, calls on the Terre de liens network which will facilitate the installation of Romain Poureau, seduced “by the framework and the social project”, from January 2020. This partnership is not based on any financial exchange: the professional makes the place available, and the people welcomed participate in agricultural tasks. “From a practical point of view, constantly sharing the farm with this public is necessarily restrictive, admits the 33-year-old farmer, but the consideration is priceless: I give them the opportunity to progress and I don’t suffer. not loneliness!”
On the other side of the road, the old building now houses the association’s headquarters and a place of daily life, including a large kitchen and rest rooms. From Monday to Friday, three professionals – instructor or specialized educators –, full-time employees, supervise the activities there. At 51, Catherine worked for a long time in a medical-educational institute (IME) before joining this “high added value” project. “These people are used to being cared for, and here they are caring for living beings!” she explains, adding that contact with the outside world could also allow them to overcome fears.
A recognized activity
“Besides, it’s not about keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy. Society recognizes agricultural activity as productive, and this essential point contributes to self-esteem!” completes his colleague Jean-François, 55 years old. The welcome at Bercail paysan is also an opportunity to acquire skills for everyday life, such as at lunchtime, when the group prepares and tastes vegetables from the vegetable garden. “We come here every day to take care of the tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and salads!” proudly lists Simon, before sinking into the greenhouse, a watering can in hand.
Today, about twenty adults referred by their families, host families or medico-social structures benefit from this service, thanks to the financing of the departmental council to which is added the support of corporate foundations, the contributions of the 240 members and one-time donations. But Martine, Anne-Françoise and Raymond, who volunteer as secretary, treasurer and president, are looking for grants to take the fight a little further. The goal? “To transform the rest of the property into a permanent living space by 2025” hopes Martine.
Recipes for success
The family spirit
Le bercail paysan makes every effort to remain a family structure: it offers a professional supervisor for three people welcomed. Often, these adults with a disability are not accustomed to life in a group, and the association approaches personalized support.
Before getting started, the three founders chose to be supported for several months by the Alter’Incub Auvergne Rhône Alpes incubator, which taught them the basics of social and environmental innovation.
The day reception
The association has entered into a partnership with the specialized association Sainte Agnès, a larger and more solid structure, which has allowed them to officially become a day care service (SAJ) financed by the mental department council of Isère.