Horses and donkeys to enhance workforce development

In the hill country around Lyon, in the mountainous and rural areas lying between Lyon, Roanne and Saint-Étienne, animal traction is helping persons in professional and social difficulty to reintegrate. A technique "as old as the world" which offers more than one advantage.

Social and Employment

Saint-Martin le Haut, France

Christine Yu

20,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2007/12/04

Project leader


"In addition to the highly positive effect that animal traction produces on the psychology of the persons in integration schemes, I fully support this project because it restores ancestral methods of cultivation and farming to their rightful place. As a farmer's daughter from the Jura, I attach the greatest importance to all approaches aimed to preserve the environment."

Christine Yu

Very often, the hurdles to vocational integration are also psychological, in addition to all the aspects associated with qualification. At the gates of the Auvergne, in the hill country around Lyon - a territory lying between Lyon, Roanne and Saint-Étienne - the association Jardin d'Avenir, which offers integration jobs on an organic farm, has found that the reintroduction of animal traction into its activity helped to overcome these psychological barriers.
The presence of animals - horses and donkeys - in fact obliges the gardeners in vocational integration schemes to take charge of new responsibilities: they have to check that the drinking troughs are full, that the animals have their daily ration of food, that their pens are properly maintained, etc.
Thanks to these many tasks, the adults rediscover essential notions: self control, concentration, taking decisions, socializing, self assertion with respect for others, etc.

A farm project promoting sustainable development

For all these reasons, the Comité de Coordination des Monts du Lyonnais, which leads and federates numerous activities in the region and particularly the supervision of workforce development for persons facing the greatest difficulties, has decided to back the action of the association Jardin d'Avenir by helping it to extend this reliance on animal traction. Thanks to its action, the Veolia Foundation will finance the acquisition of another two horses and two donkeys with their harnesses.

Locally, this initiative is deeply appreciated: the gardeners are proud to participate in an environment friendly truck gardening enterprise - farming here uses no chemical herbicides - and the consumers of the vegetable baskets sold by Jardins d'Avenir, like the neighborhood farmers, are also fascinated by this return to ancestral techniques. Everyone knows that "all-mechanical" and "all-chemical" systems have reached their limits today.

In all respects, this initiative, which genuinely relies on the fundamental principles of sustainable development, is winning the hearts of an ever growing number of persons.