After a career in logistics, Nathalie Robin created Fraise et Ciboulette in 2021. Through this company, she creates and manages urban gardens, mainly in companies in Grenoble and surroundings. For her, it’s a way of farming without the financial risks inherent. For companies, it is a means of meet sustainability commitmentsbut also fromimprove employee well-beingshe guarantees.
A year ago you created Fraise et Ciboulette with which you create and manage urban gardens. Specifically, how does it work?
Yes, a lot. the idea isuse spaces that are little or not used wisely, such as empty lawns or terraces, and install in-ground or above-ground vegetable gardens to bring back biodiversity in these places, but also thinking about the well-being of employees and offering them an activity that can be so comforting, relaxing and above all unifying.
Is it because it is an activity that focuses mainly on the corporate level?
Yes, mostly. We will say that it represents 80% of my clients. Then I also have 20% of other places to live that could be centers for the disabled, nursing homes. But concretely, 80% of my clients are in the Grenoble conurbation and therefore represent companies. They can be service companies, VSEs, SMEs, but also pharmacies, for example, restaurants… So it’s a very large sector.
For companies, there are already several advantages from the point of view of their commitments.
Yes, a lot. In fact, the implementation of an urban vegetable garden will allow these companies to act in favor of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Because there, we are immediately on the concrete. We have a lawn that is underused and often cut too early for biodiversity to be able, for example, to feed the bees. And in this case, instead of having a lawn to be mowed all the time, I prefer that we use my services to use this land as a nourishing land where we come to plant fruits and vegetables. In this way, we can also bring edible flowers or other flowers that allow, in fact, in combination, to protect the fruits and vegetables that we have planted and at the same time bring back the pollinators which for us will be winners because they will bear fruit in all our beautiful plants.
Do you also play a role in team cohesion?
Yes, a lot. It is proven that an activity such as immediately join a group. The advantage is that employees occupy a space of their business, so they really get into feel a stronger attachment to your society. they also go mix between different departments, between different hierarchical levels. And behind an apron, in the end, we are all a bit the same, let’s not talk about work, let’s talk about “How do we plant this? Do you eat too? Do you cook? It will open up around new discussions that maybe continue later in other exchanges. According to studies, it is shown that there are more well-being at the employee level. It was studied. There is more productivity too and -10% absenteeism. So there really is a strong role for revegetation that makes sense in companies.
Today, in terms of numbers, what does your activity represent?
As you said, it’s an activity that is nascent since it was created in 2021. So at the moment, I’m still alone in the structure. I have about six to eight gardens that I tend. The objective, of course, is keep growing and have more, in particular on installation there in the fall of 2022. Then we’ll go launch fully for spring 2023. In terms of turnover, we have not yet fully reached the targets, but we are slowly reaching them. We managed to perpetuate the activity, but I’m still looking for new projects.
This activity precisely, Strawberry and chives, is a reconversion for you, you didn’t intend it at the beginning…
My first degree and my studies took me into purchasing management and everything related to the supply chain. Finally a route that was interesting but very fast, I was looking for meaning. I believe like most, I laid everything flat. It was actually quiteagriculture that best met my expectations and my restrictions. In the beginning, it was really a horticultural or beekeeping facility, because for me, producing food was something that made a lot of sense. And it was a really ideal job, which was very noble for me, to tell myself that I produce food for people who will be able to eat well, locally, close to my home. Then I put it all on the table, and indeed the pitches are tricky. In our region there is a strong real estate pressure. Now, there are many municipalities that are scrambling to decouple land and distribute it to young farmers. But then there’s also the whole part long installation, which is difficult, in addition to the climate risk part. And to think that your entire salary is based solely on production that is based on meteorological incidents… It’s still pretty stressful. And to be very honest, I wasn’t sure if I had the shoulders recover each time from an episode of storms or an episode of hail and drought.
And so, in fact, did this urban garden model, especially in company locations, make it possible to respond to all these difficulties?
Yes, of course, because I don’t need land anymore, because I go to other people’s houses and I use other people’s land. Finally, we’re more in one payment for animation, installation. It’s more really project management, and then my good mood. And production, of course, is important, but let’s say it’s the icing on the cake and comforts everyone to be able to eat what we produce. But Does not matter because it is not 100% of what will feed us.