The food market at Grabels in the Languedoc region of the south of France was an initiative from the local authority, with the aim of “strengthening social ties and making fresh and affordable food available”.
The major delegated a team to investigate how this should be done. Jean-Pierre Divet, who looked after agriculture in Grabels, remembered an ulterior motive. “The idea was to bring Grabels back to life on Saturday morning,” as well as “support local small-scale agriculture over everything else as a way of being sure of having safe, fresh food”.
Agronomist Yuna Chiffoleau realised this was going to be easier said than done. “They became aware that there were almost no farmers left around Grabels, and no small-scale farmers in particular and learned that local artisans procured most of their raw materials from wholesale markets.”
Eventually the new market launched with 20 stallholders, selling cheese, fruit, olive oil and vegetables. There were five artisans and five producers, but some had travelled a long way to sell their produce.
There were problems ahead!
To resolve the problem, Grabels initiated a colour scheme.
– green indicated own produce.
– orange indicated produce sold by intermediaries.
Stallholders displaying the orange label had to guarantee that they knew the produce and could vouch for it.
In 2016 the people of Grabels celebrated the leitmotiv of International Market Day on May 29 — I love my market. Their market was a success.
With 27 stallholders, who sold bread, champagne, cheese, chickens, condiments, eggs, fish, fruit, honey, jams, mushrooms, pastries, plants, snails and wine, Grabels food market was firmly established.
The colour scheme was revised.
– green indicated local and sustainable produce from the producer.
– orange indicated local and sustainable produce from the local area.
– purple indicated non-local produce from a wider area.
It is branded by the Ici.C.Local (Here it’s Local) trademark – farm produce or local / regional produce – and is now supported by local, regional and national governments.
Grabels market is about the group and the quality of produce, and this makes it a modern market – the epitome of a sustainable food system in action – with indigenous produce and local artisanal products. Agronomist Yuna Chiffoleau always understood this distinction better than anyone. She was there at the beginning in Grabels and is there now to see the results of their astute and careful planning.
“From 2005, I became interested in assessing how direct sales and short distribution channels can help protect agriculture from economic and social duress.”
“I wanted to be a part of the innovative collective action of local groups while making sure that those previously excluded from development processes fully found their place.”
“I wanted to evaluate if and how these new practices raise awareness of environmental and economic issues, and whether they encourage people to change their food habits in favour of more sustainable development. I am very serious about helping the agronomists of tomorrow understand how much their decisions will have consequences in society.”
Grabels is a sustainable future rooted in a sensible past!
Yuna Chiffoleau has achieved much more than she wanted to, and much more than anyone else anywhere in Europe has done. That will always be her legacy!