Essonne: organic farmers settle in wasteland where civil aviation used to be

Essonne: organic farmers settle in wasteland where civil aviation used to be

Alexandre, Audrey and Keryann will settle on a 109-hectare former site that belonged to the Civil Aviation Authority before it was purchased for conservation. (© Ile-de-France country links)

The sheep took their first steps on the web and pigs should follow soon. Three organic farmers are completing their installation in Chevannes (Essonne). 109 hectares of land at a place called Wood of Folies. stayed in form more than ten years, the place was before property of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC).

“The culmination of a beautiful project”

The two operators, Keryann Sil and Audrey Garcia, lease the land to Terres de Liens, a civic association that, financed by donations from individuals, buys land through its real estate company to facilitate installation and maintenance by peasants.

The organization acquired the land with the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations Biodiversité (CDCB).

In detail, the land company Terre de Liens acquired 74 hectares (for 670,000 euros), which it leases to both breeders. The CDCB purchased 35 hectares of sensitive wetlands for itself (for €280,000) with the aim of preserving them.

The area is also in close proximity to the Bois des Montils, a 225-hectare forest acquired by the ministry in 2021 to protect it from urban sprawl.

It is the culmination of a very high-quality project, because it is the first time that we have managed to acquire so many hectares at once. In most cases, our acquisitions do not allow us to establish breeders there, which are increasingly rare in Île-de-France, so we are very happy.

Thierry Lemaire administrator of Terre de Liens Île-de-France

The lot could become a high traffic area

New life for this site, which was a state property since the 1960s, at which time the DGAC installed a lighthouse and technical buildings there.

At the same time, a large part of the area was leased to neighboring farmers for the cultivation of cereals.

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However, a radical change in the late 1990s with the organization of 4X4 ​​races on site, notably the 24 Hours of Paris. Then nothing from 2010.

While there were plans to build a high-traffic area for Travelers or to store inert soil from the Grand Paris construction sites, the state ultimately decided to put the land up for sale.

Audrey Garcia sheep will be able to graze on site
Audrey Garcia sheep will be able to graze on site (© Tessa Green)

Sites that have interested Keryann Sil for a long time

Terre de Liens was then brought to the attention of Keryann Sil, an open-air pig farmer in Valpuiseaux, where he also produces grain to feed them.

“I don’t live far from this place, which I have been interested in for a long time: it is already fenced, so the cost of setting up my business is greatly reduced,” explains the farmer.

However, Terres de Liens is not alone in this matter. Many public and private actors then showed interest.

Dairy cows will graze on site

Companies for Land and Rural Development (Safer) are pre-purchasing the land and will launch a call for applications in July 2019 with the dual aim of preserving the environmental and ecological qualities of the site and enabling the return of agriculture.

“If we were able to realize this project, it is thanks to the work carried out hand in hand with Safer”, emphasizes Thierry Lemaire.

Audrey Garcia will tend her dairy sheep and set up her cheese factory on site in collaboration with Alexandre, who also has a nomadic flock of sheep that will graze on land acquired by the Caisse des dépôts et consignations biodiversity.

Citizen subscription launched

The first productions of the three operators are expected in the coming months. They will be sold locally through Amaps or through direct sales.

Note that after each acquisition, Terre de Liens launches a citizen subscription to help it acquire land. Any citizen can participate by subscribing to shares in Foncière Terre de Liens and taking advantage of the tax discount.

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