Cultivating the soil and getting back on your feet

The former allotment gardens in Romilly-sur-Seine in the Aube département will be redeveloped to create a biological fruit and vegetable production farm. The work is being carried out by highly motivated apprentice gardeners keen to move back into the world of work.

Social and Employment

Romilly-sur-Seine, France

Jean-Pierre Courtillier

20,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2006/10/03

Project leader


"The project started up in January 2006 and is regularly mentioned in the press. It currently employs nine people, but the organization hopes that this will soon be increased to 19. It is a very worthwhile initiative: to help these long-term jobseekers rediscover a love of work in just 24 months, the duration of their subsidized employment contracts."
Jean-Pierre Courtillier

Like other structures working to help adults in difficult circumstances reclaim their place in society and the world of work, non-profit organization Chlorophylle, founded in 2004, proposes jobs in market gardening. It has decided to rehabilitate the former allotment gardens in Romilly-sur-Seine to set up a biological fruit and vegetable production activity, while at the same time providing opportunities for social and profession reintegration. Cultivating the soil can be hard work but it is also very rewarding.

A new garden of plenty

Work started in January 2006. The first job was to clear the land - it had lain fallow for too long to be used without substantial remediation work. This part of the work should be completed by March 2006. The next step will be actual production of fruit and vegetables, to be sold directly to consumers in the form of "produce baskets ". Chlorophylle is affiliated with the Jardins de cocagne (gardens of plenty) network. Every two years, 14 apprentice gardeners - disabled people, long-term jobseekers, young people in difficulty - will tackle the demanding work of biological cultivation of fruit and vegetables under the supervision of five experienced practitioners.

To start up its activity, which requires major work (and hence investment), Chlorophylle obtained the support of the main regional and local authorities (the town of Romilly-sur-Seine, the Aube country council, the Champagne-Ardennes regional council) and a number of corporate sponsors. The grant approved by the fondation Veolia will be used to buy specific biological farming equipment: thermal weed-control equipment and irrigation systems.