Region: Ecublens
Agriculture

Help us save the agricultural future of the Bassenges farm

Petition is directed to
Présidence de l'École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
6,791 supporters
68% achieved 10,000 for collection target
6,791 supporters
68% achieved 10,000 for collection target
  1. Launched 29/02/2024
  2. Time remaining > 9 weeks
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Four years ago, following a joint call from the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), a group of young farmers took over the Bassenges farm to offer a diversified form of agriculture that respects living organisms and promotes a circular flow of resources. At the heart of this high-tech campus, they offer low-tech agriculture, including horse-powered market gardening, 25 cheeps with dairy production and an agroforestry plot. In addition to offering a variety of organic and local products, this project provides an opportunity for the university community and the surrounding inhabitants to recreate a link with agriculture through the proximity of their activities and through various cultural visits and events.

EPFL, who positioned itself during the call as a model of exemplary commitment to sustainability and agriculture, seems to go astern, having announced a study for the annexation of the entire farm building, in order to set up an international mathematics center.

This decision jeopardizes the future of the farmland in the very short term, as well as the future of 6 young people and 2 children, who have put their heart and soul into developing an innovative form of agriculture.

This petition calls on the EPFL to :

  • The cancellation of the reallocation of the Bassenges farm to the Bernoulli center and the renewal of the agricultural lease to the current collective, as agreed in the lease, on February 1, 2026.
  • The inclusion of the agricultural function of the Bassenges farm in the EPFL bylaws.

For more information on the Bassenges farm, visit https://fermedebassenges.ch/vue-generale/.

Contact: info@fermedebassengescloud.ch

Reason

EPFL recently launched a study for the reallocation of the Bassenges site to accommodate "the Bernoulli Center, an international academic center for basic sciences and scientists in residence". Although the decision is not yet final to our knowledge, the EPFL has expressed its intention to us and is already initiating the procedure.

This project has a profound impact on us. Although our lease has a fixed term of 6 years, we had been assured orally that it would be tacitly renewed if our project was doing well and the relationship with the campus was good. Which seems to be the case.

This decision announces the death of the Bassenges farm :

  • Although the EPFL has informed us of its willingness to find an alternative together in order to continue the agricultural activity, this is impossible without the buildings. Indeed, a diversified agricultural model such as ours cannot exist without a suitable farm building. The agricultural ecosystem of Bassenges is intrinsically linked to livestock farming, which requires suitable buildings for the animals (sheepfold, stables), for cheese processing and for hay storage. Not to mention the storage of vegetables, cereals and machinery. Last but not least, we've spent a largre amount of time and energy renovating these different areas, which seemed destined to disappear.
  • Everything we've put in place, whether in terms of building layout, farming choices or structures promoting biodiversity, has a long-term impact and is just beginning to bear fruit. Let's not forget that agriculture, like life itself, takes a long time, and that 6 years is barely enough time to set up a farm.
  • In concrete terms, this decision implies a sharp reduction in our activity: from now on, a stop to the diversification of our activities; from 2025, a reduction in production, a halt to apprentice training; and from 2026, the end of local production of quality organic cereals, dairy products and vegetables.
  • Finally, beyond providing local quality food, we have forged social links and developed cultural exchanges with both local residents and the academic community. The end of our activities announces the end of a place open to the public and for recreation, as well as the end of awareness-raising and training activities with local classes, and academic collaborations with students.

If this decision is ratified, we will have to answer the following questions :   

  • What will happen to our farmland, biodiversity areas, newly planted fruit trees and hedgerows without our care?
  • What will become of our sheep, chickens, cow, donkeys, pigs and horses?
  • What will become of us, the farmers? Of our employees, our customers and our children?

It should also be remembered that the contract specifications for this project emphasized : "UNIL and EPFL intend, through the project chosen in November 2019, to materialize the exemplarity they must demonstrate as academic institutions committed to sustainability challenges".

  • What has become of this exemplarity a few years later ? Why did they propose tender specifications that encouraged young landless farmers and a complex form of agriculture, only to put them in a precarious position in such short term? While we understand the complex "international" stakes involved, we question EPFL's responsibility at a local level and we demand that they assume their position in favor of sustainability in a concrete way and not just through media actions.
  • Why is the Bassenges farm the only location chosen, and why is there such a lack of transparency surrounding this choice ? Why was there no prior discussion with us?
  • What's more, the Bassenges farm is a listed historic site in the canton of Vaud. What is the relevance of reallocating this farm, when its renovation is likely to be costly and probably more complex than the construction of a new building ? What's the point of a historic building stripped of its soul and function?

We are convinced that together we can win this battle for life ! Support us :

  •    By signing and sharing the online petition;
  •    By sending a letter to the EPFL presidency (model here);
  •    By coming to meet us at the Open House on March 22 (more info).

We look forward to continuing to bring this beautiful place to life with you over the coming years, and thank you for your support !

The farmers of Bassenges

Thank you for your support, Collectif Cambium Sàrl from Ecublens (VD)
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