Thinking out of the box: setting up a Municipal Farm

Edited on 16/12/2022

Municipal farm

Municipal Farm of Mouans-Sartoux

Mouans-Sartoux is a territory where land pressure is very high and where agriculture has decreased significantly since the 1960s. In 2008 the city decided to aim for 100% local organic produce for our canteens. To supply the town's canteens, the public contracts have been modified to obtain organic vegetables from local producers with a view to sustainable development. There has been no response. Faced with this difficulty, the Municipality of Mouans-Sartoux decided to take up the challenge of producing vegetables grown in-house with farmers employed by the city. This decision, taken at the end of 2008, required a two-year feasibility study and an experiment in 2010 before starting in March 2011 with one local farmer. This municipal farm is located on the Haute Combe estate, which covers 6 hectares and is owned by the municipality. In a few years the project has found its cruising speed and with 3 municipal farmers and now the town produces 26 tons of vegetables each year, meeting 96% of the needs of the 1300 meals served each day (a total of 160,000 each year).

In the summer, part of the production is frozen in one of the town's kitchens so that vegetables are available at the end of the winter when production is lowest. The children in the canteen therefore eat these good local and seasonal organic vegetables. Here, the Maison d'Education à l'Alimentation Durable (sustainable food education centre) has been set up, allowing children to take part in sustainable food classes to learn more about the vegetables they eat every day.

This project, invented by Mouans-Sartoux, is so successful that many municipalities have come to visit it to replicate it on their territory. In Mouans-Sartoux, the municipal farm is an essential asset for supplying canteens with organic vegetables and fruit in the context of a highly urbanised area lacking in local agricultural production. The creation of this farm is part of a broader vision of food sovereignty, where the city is taking back control of the existing production on the territory and the will to increase the surface of agricultural land.

Mouans-Sartoux was the first French town to create a municipal farm. In France now , around twenty municipal farms exist and thirty or so are emerging. The project is also of interest to European cities from the BioCanteens networks: One example among others, the city of Troyan, a BioCanteens partner, was able to establish its own municipal farm in two and a half years. Now it produces organic fruit, vegetables and honey on over 15 hectars for its school canteens. Thanks to this practice, the city has been distinguished this year by the EU Organic Awards of the EU Commission.

Every local authority can rethink its local agriculture, by opening up to the idea of using public spaces as agricultural production units. Beyond organic production, each city can enrich the concept of the municipal farm with different interpretations:

- a demonstrator of local organic farming to engage the local agricultural sector and encourage organic conversion

- an educational farm to welcome school children and families, but also to raise awareness of local politicians and decision-makers on agricultural issues

- a social asset to engage socio-dependent people and provide employment

- a cooperative to bring together small local farms and provide food processing facilities.

poster municipal farm


Setting up a Municipal Farm has been an hot toping during the BioCanteens#2 Network. At the very beginning of the project, while visiting the Good Practice of Mouans-Sartoux, no one ever believed it could be replicated in their own city. But now, few months later some of them changed their mind. In Wroclaw, the city is seriously considering creating an agricultural hub in the outskirts of the city. 

Liège inaugurated a Municipal Transformation hub, where all the products coming from the surroundings can be transformed and distributed to the city markets and the schools.

This experience shows that setting up a municipal farm is not a dream, nor something specific from Mouans-Sartoux. Is a reality that can be achieved in a multiplicity of contexts. Each local authority can reinterpret this model in the most appropriate way, in line with their food sovereignty ambitions.

Submitted by Clara Garrone on 16/12/2022
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Clara Garrone

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