Small agricultural holdings, which produce the majority of the world’s food, operate for the most part using traditional methods that are adapted to local scales and infused with ancestral knowledge passed on from one generation to the next on the same farm. How can this expertise be shared with farmers in other regions who are facing the same challenges? Since 2009, L’Atelier Paysan has worked to promote and spread agricultural practices, innovative farming technologies and key knowledge through its organisation, which has received official recognition as a cooperative initiative of public interest.
Initially conceived as an open-source toolbox available to all, L’Atelier Paysan has developed an innovative approach in order to devise solutions adapted to organic farming. The members of this collective revive traditional methods that favour animal-powered tools alongside pedal power and electrical assistance, and which reintegrate craft techniques into rural life. Plans and tutorials for numerous machines, tools, and apparatus, designed and “collectively approved”, are made available by L’Atelier Paysan’s network. The cooperative also organises self-build workshops and training sessions for those interested in adopting tools geared towards organic farming, so that they can learn to use them independently.
The cooperative is now looking to establish a permanent home for its resources in order to better extend its actions: this Maison des Technologies Paysannes will be dedicated to creating, testing and discussing agricultural tools, and training people how to use them. The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is accompanying L’Atelier Paysan over the course of four years in the creation of this space, and in doing so will support a wide-ranging and vital approach to encouraging the development of sustainable practices amongst farmers. In the context of climate change, such practices represent an essential strategy through which concrete steps can be taken at a national scale to maintain the biodiversity of the rural world.