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Buying from producers via a cooperative, a little-known approach

Buying from producers via a cooperative, a little-known approach

La Botte Paysanne, Sivry-Rance

The Producteurs de la Botte Paysanne, based in Sivry, are reclaiming the direct sale of local products from the producer to the consumer and are recalling the importance of social relationships with respect to food.

Every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the Producteurs de la Botte Paysanne welcome fans of organic and local products. The former barn which has been turned into a shop is located 200 metres off the RN53, between Beaumont and Sivry, just next to the RAVeL, in the middle of the countryside. On going inside, you will find a ‘social’ area, stalls of fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese, chocolate, apple juice, beer, coffee and other organic products.

produits-locaux-bio
All of the products sold are local and/or organic

‘But why would you do your shopping there rather than in a supermarket?’

From talking to customers, we learn that there are multiple reasons. ‘They are primarily fresh products’, a woman explains, ‘I know that they are made locally, they come from nearby’, another customer says. ‘They are organic’ another person says, ‘The citizen approach is interesting’, another says.

At the end of the day, this point of sale stands out thanks to its local, organic and seasonal approach. What’s more, beyond the product, it’s a way of consuming which is valued. ‘We primarily sell products which have been farmed organically or on farms in the process of changing to organic, we promote local producers to ensure the quality and the taste of the food’, explains Catherine, one of the project’s founders.

Local production that respects the environment is our priority

Since its creation one year ago, the cooperative has become well known: around 150 families shop here. It is gradually releasing profits which are directly reinvested in its social structure.

producteurs-locaux-produits
The local producers provide the stock themselves

Helping producers through a responsible approach

The producers also have an interest. The producers launched the cooperative in December 2017, after having tested direct sale with a small shop called ‘Les jardins de Lorroir’. The aim is to pool strengths. ‘It’s not always easy to sell and talk about our products, in addition to producing them. It’s another job and there isn’t enough time to grow sales’, explains Philippe, cheese producer.

This pooling of abilities is done according to a philosophy shared by everyone: ‘We are talking about a cooperative for producers. The idea is therefore to leave the management to the producers whilst involving the consumers. The consumers are volunteers and help to organise events. Those who are Coopèr’Acteurs are also involved in taking decisions at general meetings’, says Cyrille Guyot, market gardener and founder of the cooperative.

The cooperative is managed by producers and, to an extent, consumers.

To participate as a member of the cooperative, you must buy at least one share: 500 euros for producers and 100 euros for consumers Today, it has 8 producers (market gardeners, cheesemaker, chocolatier, soap maker, apple juice producer, etc.) and several suppliers. These cooperative members participate in decisions and have a small shop to preserve contact with the customer, an important point in the project.

frais-locaux-légumes-fruits-fromage
Fresh, local products, such as vegetables, fruit, cheese, etc. are very successful

Informing the public

In addition to selling products in the shop, the cooperative organises events to raise awareness of the responsible consumption approach. ‘We organise information evenings with respect to production. Recently, we explained the price of the products, the importance of the quality of production, the approach of the producers. For example, we brought together around 70 people to introduce our artisanal baker’, says Catherine Tellier, founder.

Information is also provided via readings. Practical workshops, for example, on making tea at home or bread or natural soap, are also organised.

produits-locaux-bio-éthiques
In addition to local products, the cooperative also offers organic and/or ethical products

A long-term vision

The cooperative is only at the start of its journey. It has several projects that it wants to develop. First of all, the main objective is to sustain the shop, by employing someone, for example.

Then, for the founders, it would be necessary to extend the sales area, which is currently quite limited with respect to the number of consumers. Their wish is to participate in the Ceinture Alimentaire de Charleroi Métropole [Charleroi Métropole’s food belt] project with which they are already working: ‘We have signed up to the Ceinture Alimentaire project. We will be able to supply some of our produce thanks to this network and thus offer high-quality, fresh, organic food to the residents of Charleroi Métropole’, she says.

Finally, doing your shopping in the Coopérative des Producteurs de la Botte Paysanne is the same as participating in a social project, much more than a simple reflection on food. This is helping to develop local jobs, to respect the quality of our agricultural land, to support small-scale agriculture and, primarily to eat local high-quality products.

 

Contact:
La botte paysanne
Grand Thumas 1
6470 Sivry
https://www.labottepaysanne.be/
info@labottepaysanne.be

©Pictures/Leslie Artamonow