In 2005, in the face of rapidly increasing land values, urban sprawl, and farmland development pressures, the forward-thinking Mouans-Sartoux town council purchased an old farm estate that was slated for development, and has since designated over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served in their three public school cafeterias should be local and organic. To help meet this ambitious target, the local council updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs.
But even after changing these policies, the supply of local produce was insufficient to meet the town’s needs. So the town took matters into their own hands by growing their own vegetables on the old estate purchased a few years earlier. In 2010 the town hired its first “municipal farmer,” invested in farming and storage equipment, and officially launched its régie agricole municipale or “municipal farming service.” By 2015 the municipally-run farm produced 85% of the organic vegetables used in local school meals. The program reduces food waste by coordinating cafeteria menus with what’s available on the farm, and by processing and storing produce harvested during school holidays. In addition to fresh produce, the municipal farm provides opportunities for school children and young adults to learn about farming and where their food comes from. The farm also sells vegetables at a discount to low-income residents and donates surpluses to the local food bank. To learn more, visit the program’s website (in French) or read the relevant entries in these reports from Access to Land and the Transnational Institute.