Training in market gardening and fruit growing in short circuits on Ecolys®
In the last few years, the market gardening, urban agriculture and short food supply chains have been growing strongly and require considerable low-skilled labour. However, only 20% of young people who have received training in market gardening get a job in these fields. The cause ? Labor shortage and lack of access to land.
On the Namur side, the BEP, the CPAS de Namur, the Forem, the Coopérative Paysans-Artisans and the Mission Wallonne des secteurs verts have joined forces to organize training for market gardeners / fruit growers as part of the IMAGINE project.
On february 5th and 19th, 2021, the young trainees went to the land made available by the BEP on the Ecolys® business park. They learned the pruning the fruit trees exploited by Paysans-Artisans.
These two days of training are part of a more global training of one year, coordinated by Paysans-Artisans : the young people learn directly from local producers (9 days out of 10) and through collective training (1 day out of 10).
The objective of this training is twofold :
- At first, to reduce job shortages in the growing sectors of market gardening and fruit growing, while promoting the professional integration of young people ;
- Secondly, to use and develop the dormant and non-commercialized lands of municipalities and other local authorities.
At the end of the training, the trainee can expect to find a job as a worker with a market gardener, a fruit grower, an Employers' Group, a Green Space service in a municipality, etc. He will also be able to benefit from support to set up as a self-employed person, if he wishes to do so.
Role of the BEP
In the Province of Namur, 16% of young people do not go to school, are not in training or are unemployed. The urban agriculture sector linked to short circuits is, for its part, expanding rapidly and is asking for a low-skilled workforce, while facing a lack of access to land. In this context, the BEP has decided to make use of the unoccupied spaces in its business parks (“buffer” zones between the companies in the parks) and to make them available for fruit exploitation.
This decision is part of an environmental thinking for the management of business parks. Thus, the BEP carried out green works in the Ecolys®, Créalys®, La Houssaie, Mecalys® and Beauraing parks. On Ecolys®, the BEP dedicated a non-building area of the park to a plant production (350 apple trees and 180 pear trees) of 40 ares, exploited by Paysans-Artisans cooperative.
These currently unoccupied or unusable land areas are suitable for market gardening and could become drivers of job creation and social innovation. In the long term, if this model proves its worth, the BEP could even support the municipalities concerned in the implementation of this scheme on their dormant land.
In addition, the BEP will also allow support young people who wish, to have a test area in business parks to start their own activity.
The local partnership in Namur
The BEP makes its unexploited land available and coordinates the development of the pilot model in the region of Namur in a local partnership with :
- The Coopérative Paysans-Artisans - in charge of coordinating the “market gardening / fruit growing” training for young people ;
- The CPAS de Namur - in charge of selecting young people and monitoring them ;
- The Forem - in charge of the training path thinking, certification and reintegration of young people into the job market ;
- The Mission Wallonne des Secteurs Verts - provides support in the co-production of collective training sessions.