Growing Cocagne Gardens along VINCI highways to fight against exclusion

Growing Cocagne Gardens along VINCI highways to fight against exclusion: How to co-create fitted social inclusion enterprises within the local organic agriculture sector with a for profit company?

Beaune la Rolande, FranceBeaune la Rolande
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The network of Cocagne Gardens represents around one hundred social inclusion companies spread all over France. VINCI Autoroutes develops a strong presence at the heart of French territories throughout the highway routes serving nearly all the French regions. Together, with the help of the VINCI Foundation , we have partnered to build an innovative partnership to fight against exclusion in rural areas by growing Cocagne Gardens.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The current economic crisis triggers a chronic rise in unemployment and social exclusion in France, which leads to growing social instability and the marginalization of many poor citizens, especially in rural areas where people are isolated with few resources, no means to move, and sometimes a lack of skills that makes their way back to employement difficult to find.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We decided to establish a platform for social innovation to combine the expertise of the private and public actors to develop Social Integration Enterprises.That is why, in 2008, VINCI Autoroutes, the VINCI Foundation and The Cocagne Gardens Network designed projects to use abandoned land along motorways available to create Cocagne Gardens as the bearer of a strong social project (providing the territory of a new social integration tool) as well as an environmental project (develop land by the production of organic vegetables ). The first initiative came to a succesful conclusion in 2010 with the birth of the Roman Road Cocagne Garden, in Pithiverais. 3 others initiatives have since succeeded.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Since 2009, VINCI and its Foundation have committed to an innovative partnership with local governments and the Cocagne Network to move ahead in the battle against social exclusion:the Cocagne Roman Road Garden was created in Pithiverais, region bisected by the highway A19 (built and operated by VINCIAutoroutes). Performed in an area with people in need of assistance with social insertion, the experiment involves both a significant social project (providing the region with a new social insertion tool) and an interesting environmental project (restoring value to neglected areas along the sides of the highway by producing organicvegetables).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The concept of the RomanRoad Garden is expanding in the network of VINCI Autoroutes: Escota and Clarisse Environnement have created an olive tree preserve along the A57 near Puget-Ville. Twenty-seven lesser known varieties of olive trees were planted and cared for by eight employees on social integration contracts.Two other Cocagne gardens are currently being considered: one with ASF in Gragnague near Toulouse that has opened its doors at the beginning of last year and another in conjunction with Cofiroute in Sarthe. They will also assist persons lacking easy access to employment to rejoin the workforce while preserving biodiversity and helping the local economy.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

As we previously explained, the Cocagne Gardens Network represents more than a hundred social enteprise in France. The particularity of this project relies on its innovative partnership and its proximity to a highway, which brings new perspectives regarding the social mission of the Cocagne Garndes : diversification of integration pathways, new business opportunities to sell the vegetables and raising public awareness of organic farming and of social inclusion ).


The parntership is fully supported by the top management of each partners: Chantal Monvois, Administrator of VINCI Foundation , Pierre Copey chairman at VINCI and Jean-Guy Henckel, national director of the Cocagne Network are involved in the projects. Chantal Monvois is playing a key role by making connecton between VINCI and the Cocagne networks, but also, by calling up VINCI employees into the project. On each local projects, VINCI employees and the Cocagne Garden directors team up to build the project, with the support of at least two members of the Cocagne Network development team.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
Visit website
Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)


Total Number of Full-Time Employees


Lead Contact First Name


Lead Contact Last Name






Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Organization Name


Total Number of Full-Time Employees


Lead Contact First Name


Lead Contact Last Name



Head of the Foundation



Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Basic Info
Project Starting Year


Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, XX, Beaune la Rolande

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact
Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet, Job Creation: Entries in this category create new jobs for people away from the labor market.

What awards or honors has the project received?
Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

Partner 1: The network of Cocagne Gardens (The Cocagne network)
Social Partner- Non-Profit Organization Law of 1901
The Cocagne networks gathers the Cocagne Gardens and develops a policy for the promotion, the services and the assistance to all affiliated gardens. The Cocagne Gardens are organic market gardens which employ socially and professionally excluded people.
Key Motivation: Create innovative Jardins de Cocagne in close partnership with a for profit enterprise to explore new employment solutions for excluded people in rural areas
Key contributions in the co-creation project : The Cocagne network brought its methodology to create and spread new Cocagne Gardens in different territories and situations, its regional and national credibility in the field of social integration initiatives and organic agriculture

Partner 2: The VINCI Foundation
Social Partner
-Short description sentence: Bringing together the skills of VINCI employees and social actors, the VINCI Foundation aims to fight all forms of exclusion by accompanying those who have been excluded on the road to employment and promoting solidarity within the Community.
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project : The VINCI Foundation has been supporting the Cocagne Gardens since 2005 through subsidies to purchase agricultural equipment.
-Key contributions in the co-creation project :The Foundation brought financial supports to the co-created projects. To go further in its mission, it made the connection between the network of Cocagne Gardens and VINCI Group and its employees.

Partner 3: VNCI Autoroutes
-Short description sentence: VINCI Autoroutes designs, builds, finances and operates 4,386 km of motorways under concession in France. Every day, it carries over 2 million customers on the networks of its four concession operating companies: ASF, Cofiroute, Escota and Arcour.
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project: For VINCI, this type of partnership allows to restore value of large amount of abandoned land along the motorways. It also brings a team-building company project for VINCI employees that offers their skills to these social projects, and raises awareness of environmental and sustainable development issues for highway users.
-Key contributions in the co-creation project :Material and financial resources: land, investment subsidies, human ressources (management skills, human resources, communications, etc..) and the social mission (training, mock interviews, company visits, )

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

The Cocagne Roman Road Garden now employs fifteen employees on social integration contracts and sells its produce at highway rest stops and in weekly produce baskets to a network of local consumers. The bet made during the design of this Cocagne garden proved to be perfectly relevant. It helped to develop a social enterprise in a difficult rural context, with complementary businesses to market gardening thanks to the partnership with VINCI Autoroutes (restaurant / hospitality in the highway rest stops maintenance of green areas along the motorway), while ensuring mobility to employment (nearby motorway services). This bet is successful: people on social integration contracts would not have had access to employment due to their lack of mobility and they can now.

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]

Foundations, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Customers.

Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

The business model of the Cocagne Gardens is hybrid, that is to say it relies on 25% of self revenues (selling basket of seasonal vegetables) and 75% of both public and private subsidies. To spread this model, we have to make sure our public partners are willing to co-create a Cocagne Gardens on their territory and to support the project in the long term.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

This is the story of an unlikely encounter. "We abandoned land along the A19 that we wanted to develop . After talking with our VINCI Foundation to find a suitable project, we decided to create an area dedicated to organic agriculture and solidarity "said Marc Bouron , deputy director of Cofiroute ( VINCI subsidiary motorway ) and now president of the association in 2008. His team then approaches the Cocagne network which, at first, didn't want to be part of it ! Indeed, the Cocagne network insisted on its methodolgy to spread new Cocagne Gardens : it was necessary to conduct a genuine feasibility study, and to make sure, the public partners will go for it, and support this project based on a not so natural alliance ! Once we all agreed, we were ready to work together.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

It is clear that these new alliances are not so natural and easy to put in practice. Difficulties are numerous. We had an example just recently when the representative of a French region confided to us that since we now had a partnership with a major corporation for our project, the region could stop funding the project ! We manage to overcome this barrier thanks to the current director of the Cocagne Roman Road Garden, and her work on the field, among her local partners.
Regarding the technical side of some of the projects, we also faced poor land quality, as it has been damaged during the construction period of the highways.The quality of the lands was sometimes so poor, we were afraid not to be able to grow vegetables but we found out technical solutions with the support of the Cocagne Network team.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

At a national level, we closely work with the VINCI Foundation which makes the link between the Cocagne network and VINCI Autouroutes and we are very often in contact (meeting, phone calls, etc..) to follow the projects.
At a local level, a charter is signed to let the lands to the local association. Regarding the Cocagne Roman Road Garden, people from VINCI and the Vinci Foundation are part of the gouvernance of the association that manages the Jardin, as well as at the Cocagne Garden of Girou in Gragnague.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

By implementing this project, VINCI has developed a company project and was a great management experience for VINCI Autoroutes companies, able to bring together the expertise and the personal involvement of several collaborators around this social project . Today, employees involvement a is genuine, and totally in tune with the needs of the co-created Cocagne Gardens. Bringing skills, training of employees social integration contracts , participation in the Cocagne Gardens governance, subcontracting for the maintenance of green spaces, support for marketing of organic products, ... so many opportunities to work together for the greater benefit of excluded people

How did you find out about this competition?

MOUVES in France