Standing up straight in the quiet of the olive grove

In Ollioules, non-profit organization La courte échelle (providing a leg-up) is setting up a subsidized employment scheme with the aim of rehabilitating an old olive grove and the surrounding terraced fields. A magnificent setting for people in difficulty, who will gradually rediscover what it means to work and earn a wage, the satisfaction of a job well done and self-esteem.

Social and Employment

Project leader

La courte échelle

Ollioules, France

Thierry Durand

15,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2006/10/03

"Helping young, underprivileged people move back into normal life by acquiring specific know-how, rehabilitating the local area and promoting old skills such as cultivation of the olive and building terraced fields: it all fits with the values of sustainable development."
Thierry Durand

In Provence, the mountains, olive trees, sun and garrigue form a wonderful natural setting. For centuries, man has left his mark on the landscape by planting olive groves and building stone walls to retain earth for growing crops. But today this heritage is falling into disuse. The organization, set up to combat exclusion in 1995, decided to set up a back-to-work scheme as a way of saving these two emblematic symbols of the landscape of Provence.

Rediscovering the love of work

The project will pass on skills in two areas: cultivation of olive trees according to the rhythm of the seasons - pruning, treatment, grafting and finally, in October, harvesting the olives – and secondly, traditional stonemason's techniques to repair the stone walls and restore a hunter's hut. Over the months, the people involved will have the satisfaction of seeing the building work advance and the olive grove come back to life, thanks to their own hard work. The organization openly admits that it hopes this experience will be just the first step in helping them get them back on their feet.
Once the project has been completed, La courte échelle wants to take its action further by encouraging its trainees to discover jobs associated with water, waste and transportation through regular meetings with the Toulon transport syndicate. It hopes that once they have completed this subsidized employment contract, they will be ready to make the big move back into the world of work.
They say that an olive tree lives for two thousand years. When times are hard, it shrivels up and becomes an impenetrable bush; later, when the good times return, a magnificent tree arises from the dried-up bush – an interesting metaphor for people in very precarious circumstances who embark on the road to reintegration.