Shopping local: France's AMAP farm basket scheme explained
Each month, we take a selection of reader questions and answer them. One of July's questions is about France's AMAP scheme and whether it is good value.
I want to eat more healthily – are farm AMAP schemes good value? F.S.
AMAP (Association pour le maintien d’une agriculture paysanne) is a system whereby local consumers support a local farmer. Find one at reseau-amap.org.
The aim is for the farmer to obtain a fair price but to remain competitive by selling directly to the consumer. In general, prices are comparable to a supermarket but with the advantage that you know exactly where the food is coming from. You also have the possibility of developing a relationship with the producer and discussing with them what they will be planting in the season ahead.
Amap farmers often offer local or old-fashioned varieties selected for flavour. Many, though not all, Amap schemes are also run by farms with organic (AB, agriculture biologique), certification, produced avoiding artificial fertilisers and pesticides. The customer agrees to take a basket of seasonal produce weekly, usually for a season, either spring/summer or autumn/winter, and to pay a modest fee to join the Amap scheme, around €5-20/year. You will typically pay for the food once a month.
You usually need to collect the produce, from the farm or a market, or an accessible local point such as outside the mairie. One or more pick-up times and places will be proposed, usually in the early evening.
To give an example, it costs €5/year per family to join the Amap du Maine Blanc in the Charente, and its baskets contain six to a dozen kinds of vegetable, plus home-made sourdough bread, at €9.90 to €19.80.
In the same department, Les Saveurs de la Boissière offers €10 baskets of vegetables and eggs, for one or two people, or €20 ones suitable for up to four. La Bataillouse in the Tarn charges €20/basket, but you can take half-baskets or a delivery only every two weeks.
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