French criminal law states that sanctions on criminals should seek to integrate or reintegrate people who have committed a crime. Moreover, studies show that 60% of people given prison sentences reoffend within 5 years if they do not receive specialised social support. Overpopulation of prisons, violence, unstable physical and mental health – the conditions in prison don’t enable them to prepare for release and increase the risk of people reoffending.
Driven by a strong belief that all human beings can improve themselves and rebuild their lives through work, in 1990 Jacques Pluvinage and Claude Naudin founded Moyembrie Farm to mitigate the damaging social impact of prison, and to prepare people for their reintegration into society.
Moyembrie Farm is located in the village of Coucy le Château in the department of Aisne in northern France. The association seeks to take in and support people who want to rebuild their lives after a rupture, which for most people here means having been in prison.
A studio and job integration workshop supported by the state, it’s a unique place which takes in people who have completed a prison sentence (through an external placement system). These people are integrated into society and professional life by working in organic gardens.
On average, the farm has 50 ‘residents’, who generally stay for a period of about 7 months. Enjoying spending time together is key to teaching them how to live in society again and of preparing them for release. This original feature has proven successful and its success in reintegrating people has been recognised.
The farm has an average of 50 residents a year, 7 members of staff and around 50 volunteers, most of whom are AMAP members (a form of association that supports farmers).
The farm regularly receives visits from external stakeholders, volunteers, project leaders, legal professionals, journalists, etc.)
The Emmaus network (with support from the solidarity economy and integration branch) and many exchanges with local communities.
The foundations that finance the project (Avise, Macif, Foundation of France).
La Dirrecte (the local government office for companies, competition, consumption, work and jobs) for the government’s convention on integration.
The judiciary and prison service.
The Coucy le Château town hall.
A real farm that delivers produce to AMAP (‘organisation for the maintenance of peasant farming’) organisations every week. About 100 entirely organic boxes containing eggs, goat’s cheese and chicken.
Sticking to a timetable, working with others, having responsibilities - there are numerous benefits to working on the farm, where everyone can find their place and determine their own rhythm.
Equally, the farm’s residents are supported by a team of staff and volunteers so that they can pursue their plans for the future. From obtaining driving licences, finding somewhere to live, going on training courses and preparing for job interviews, it’s not a relaxing journey and it’s important to take time to build a new life.
Benefitting from its certified status as an integration workshop, the farm can also employ people who are free but not yet ready for the ‘traditional’ labour market – a good way of creating balance within the team and offering prospects to new arrivals. Over the course of several months, life on the farm enables residents to regain control of their own lives and to undertake projects that will help prevent them returning to prison.
Moyembrie Farm’s managing body joined the Emmaus movement in 2009. The project run by the farm comes under the struggle of combating exclusion. Its economic model is based on developing an ethical and solidarity economy which respects the environment (market gardening and livestock breeding in line with organic farming regulations).
In 2015, 54 people were taken in. the integration workshop has a dynamic turnover (for positive reasons) of 57% from people leaving to take up jobs or training. Accommodation is found for each person that leaves.
The documentary produced by Samuel Gauthier and Nicolas Ferran, entitled ‘A l’Air Libre’ (‘Out in the Fresh Air’)
The short documentary by a well-known French channel, France 2