A structured and structuring approach
The Bolton-Ouest Collective aims to create, produce and market local productions according to specifications in accordance with its charter of values. These specifications are inspired by agroecology and take into account several cross-cutting requirements (“organic” management, humanist approach in livestock farming, management of water, energy, carbon footprint, conservation of biodiversity, local and solidarity economy, etc.). This objective requires the creation of an ecosystem that links needs (expertise, manpower, equipment, infrastructure, transformation, etc.) and resources (individual, intellectual, social, cultural, natural, material and built capital, political and financial) in support of the Collective’s mission.
Think-tank and innovation incubator
From 2015 to 2019, the Collective operated as a free association of owners growing from 8 to more than 30 properties. This association quickly adopted a structure (Executive Council) and principles of governance, a budget and financing methods (contributions and subsidies), an operating mode (regular meetings, minutes, actions, follow-ups, etc.), centralized detailed archiving (Google Drive), external communication (website, media presence) and local and regional networking.
The agricultural inventories (farm plans, soil analyses, etc.) and forestry (forest management plans) first enabled each owner to better understand the characteristics inherent to his property and to detail the principles enabling him to take care of it in the best way. As time went on, common priorities emerged and enabled grouped approaches and economies of scale. A modular approach has, finally, made the members converge towards the centers of activities in phase with their needs and allowed the construction of centers of excellence managed by the carriers of modules.
Beyond the sharing of information, the exchange of knowledge and expertise, the pooling (services, inputs, etc.) and the reduction of risks related to the exploitation of their property, the owners have developed a community benevolent, driven by a common vision and ready to take the initiative further.
In 2020, the transition to NPO (Non-Profit Organization) status coincides with the arrival of a certain critical mass and the emergence of an assumed maturity on the part of the members. This passage formalizes everything that has been built upstream while allowing legitimacy to be established and allowing better visibility for authorities, donors, civil society, etc. The NPO also allows the Collective to put forward its objective of social economy and to reconcile economic activity and social equity. The construction of a local ecosystem naturally involves the creation and support of a united community, particularly with regard to local and sustainable employment.