Testimonial from Belgium-based Fonds VINCI (managed by the King Baudouin Foundation) about Vent de Terre
Vincent Gérard, Senior Automation engineer at Actemium Liège, is a sponsor of Vent de Terre, a co operative that offers meeting spaces as well as agroecology and marketing gardening training courses suitable for people preparing for a new career, disadvantaged young people and adults with mental disabilities.
“I’d already acted as a sponsor for various projects supported by the Fonds VINCI, but I threw myself heart and soul into this particular one seeing as it was a co‑operative I was familiar with and admired,” explained Vincent Gérard.
Vent de Terre
Founded five years ago, Vent de Terre has two locations just outside Liège – one in Tilff and another one at the former Carmelite convent in Chaudfontaine. According to Muriel Vandermeulen, one of the project managers, “Our co-op has over 300 members, who helped us buy the greenhouses, build the hut/shop and dig retention ponds for watering purposes. Around 100 customers call into our two shops each week and we deliver baskets to almost 250 people in the locality.”
A friendly, welcoming setting
Vent de Terre provides a friendly, welcoming setting for people from all walks of life. Children and adults with mental disabilities can learn about growing vegetables in the co‑operative’s learning centre, where the non-profit Racynes brings together a group of young people including Cathy and Walissa once a week. “I must admit I wasn’t too excited about marketing gardening at first,” says Cathy, “but I ended up really liking it and I’ve been coming here every week ever since, rain or shine! We get to be outside, spend time together and learn stuff in a fun way. It’s brilliant!”
A meeting and training space
Vent de Terre also holds its own training courses for people who, for professional or personal reasons, want to learn more about agroecology. In the past, the co‑operative did not have a suitable space and the instructor therefore covered theory in their own home several kilometres away, which is why Vent de Terre called on the Fonds VINCI to install a lightweight timber dome for training courses and team meetings.
“We are Vent de Terre customers and my children’s school often visits the co‑operative. I think installing a timber dome is a clever idea – it complements the existing infrastructure and blends in well with its surroundings.I was in charge of getting the electrics sorted, so a friend of mine took care of it to keep labour costs down,” adds Vincent Gérard.
About the Fonds VINCI
Set up in 2012, the Fonds VINCI combats all forms of exclusion and has invested a total of €2,034,202 across 127 organisations to date. The Fonds VINCI is a partnership between VINCI and the King Baudouin Foundation that forges ties between VINCI Belgique and organisations that promote integration. It supports social stakeholders in areas where it can count on employee engagement and professionalism in the long term.