Case Study

Farm and educate in urban areas


Farm and educate in urban areas


1. Introduction

Marie Bréon, head of the association Bergeries en ville, has been practicing eco-pasture (or urban pastoralism) since 2010. Her sheep and goats graze on about fifteen plots of land in Clamart and its surroundings. The association has contracts with municipalities and private companies that allow the association to use this land. The activity also has a social and educational dimension since it is located in the heart of the Parisian agglomeration.

2. Basic information

Main promoter

Marie Bréon

Start of the practice



Clamart, France

Organisations involved
  • Herder(s)
  • Private landowner(s)
  • Public landowner(s)
  • Municipality(ies)
  • Schools, cultural and educational associations, retirement homes
Total surface of land farmed in ha

The association currently practices urban pastoralism on 14 different plots of land, representing a few dozen hectares in total.

Ownership of the land used for transhumance farming
  • Rented private land
  • Rented public land
Basic produce

The association did not produce anything until very recently. However, the association carries out many activities that give people the opportunity to discover the world of the farm and nature, and that provide education on the environment. Moreover, the association promotes pastoralism towards the broad public.

FR105 Hauts-de Seine
  • Main farm



3. Situation before startup/ change/ continuation

Marie Bréon, 30 years old, has a decorative arts and scenography background. She took over the association “L’Enfance de l’Art” created by her mother in 1990. The association was dedicated to various nature awareness actions. In 1998, the association integrated an abandoned hunting lodge located in the Parc de Saint-Cloud and created the Ferme du Piqueur. Until 2018, Ferme du Piqueur gathered 150 animals (cows, sheep, horses, pigs …) and up to 7 employees in charge of welcoming all publics for workshops (30 000 people per year). The eco-pasture activity began in 2010 on a slope in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the southwest suburbs of Paris. In 2018, the association had to leave the park of Saint-Cloud but the sheep and goats were kept to continue urban pastoralism. The association found a new base in a farm in the city of Clamart, a few kilometers southwest of Paris. The farm is lent by the municipality free of charge in exchange for eco-grazing operations in the city as well as the organization of events. A new association was created: Bergeries en ville.

4. Transhumance farming business description

Landscape type

The herd uses urban or peri-urban areas. The parcels the herd grazes can be gardens, parks, lawns or even fallow land, or land to be cleared.

The farm is a 70 m² building consisting of two rooms. The building is mainly used to welcome the public and to store equipment, supplies and grain. Two pens house the sheep in the municipal park adjacent to the building. The bowling green has been transformed into a farmyard. Sloping land, including an area of several hectares, is made available by the town of Clamart. The area is located a ten-minute walk from the building. All the plots used (14 in total) are eco-grazing land.

Animal type/ breed

The sheep can be of several breeds: Thônes et Marthod, Ouessant, Ouessant-Saint-Malo, crossbreed Suffolk-Ouessant, Mérinos de Rambouillet, Solognote … The sheep breed Thônes et Marthod, originating from Savoie (Northern Alps), is the best for this type of activity. The sheep are easy to move, and their small size is particularly suitable for small plots. The goats are of the Poitevin, Alpine or Rove breed (Marseille region). In addition to 30 sheep and 7 goats, the association currently (early 2023) has 40 chickens, 40 rabbits and 8 guinea pigs.

Movement patterns

The association practices short and horizontal transhumance carried out by the animals in urban areas, i.e., urban transhumance. The distances are often a few hundred meters or a kilometre, rarely more. The animals can be driven in vans for convenience, but most of the movements are made on foot.

Markets addressed/ product selling

Currently, the association only produces 300 soaps made from sheep’s milk. In addition to nature and environmental awareness activities (art and nature workshops, interventions in schools), the eco-pasture contracts provide the association with a significant source of income. The contracts allow the association to finance the salaries of two of its five current employees.

Threats & challenges

Not being the owner of the farm and the land is one of the main threats to the activity. It is a form of precariousness, as the activity depends on the municipalities and, therefore, on the elections. Changes in the majority can call into question certain advantages, such as the free loan of premises or land. In large urban areas, the price of land almost prevents access to any form of ownership. This precariousness can also pose a problem for the animals, which could lose grazing land if contracts end. Another problem in the city is the lack of veterinarians specialised in sheep and goats. Finally, dogs not kept on a leash can be a danger for animals.

The association is trying to diversify its activities. In addition to contracts with municipalities, it is developing partnerships with private companies. The association has also set up a therapeutic micro-farm in a medicalised retirement home in Paris.

5. Decisions taken


Transhumance began for practical reasons (difficulties in obtaining land) and continues with several objectives: ecological, economic, social and educational.

Decision for the kind of animal/ specific breed

The breeds are not specifically selected. The association functions as a foster family within the framework of a partnership with the Brigitte-Bardot Foundation for the protection of animals. It also takes in old sheep unfit for production which are given to the association by friends who are breeders.

Decision for the production system

Animal performance is not the main focus of this activity.

Diversification of income

The wool, washed and spun by Marie Bréon herself, is used in educational workshops. This wool is being tried out in a new activity in 2023. The Tricots Jean Marc factory located in Clamart will make hats and socks. Marie Bréon indicates that the inhabitants are waiting for these products. In small quantities, they could be sold occasionally, for example at the Christmas market.

Multifunctional aspects

The social work done with the animals in the city is vital. Grazing the animals in the city results in many discussions, meetings and explanations. The relations with the inhabitants are very positive and the activity contributes to the well-being of the city.

In ecological terms, but also in terms of financial savings, the activity has positive spin-offs for the towns: less petrol, less use of machinery, and less noise since the animals replace the brush cutters). The animals also complement the gardeners’ work by enabling the mowing of difficult-to-access areas.

6. Training/ skills to establish the business

No specific training for urban pastoralism exists, but shepherd training courses, for example, in France, can be helpful. Eco-grazing is a fast-growing activity, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

7. Next steps to move on

The association wishes to continue the production of soap but needs space for this activity. It also wants to develop the eco-pasture activity. However, the association would need an electric vehicle and also to get new contracts. Some town halls now require an eco-pasture component in their calls for tenders to maintain green spaces. There are, therefore, new outlets and a need for salaried shepherds for this activity. Several specialised companies in the Paris area have established recently.

8. Quote and recommendation of the promoter

For starting eco-pasturing, it is essential to favour sheep breeds with accessible contact with humans. It is also advisable to conduct a preliminary study in order to target potential clients. Today, eco-grazing is developing in large cities but also in smaller towns and villages. Eco-pasturing requires a sense of organisation: rigorous health monitoring, requests from town halls and prefectures for travel, and the ability to react 24 hours a day to the slightest call as the activity is carried out an urban environment. Training on animals is essential, and the ability to observe the animals is vital. Basic knowledge of care and botany to identify toxic plants in an urban environment is important. Finally, the information and communication aspect should not be neglected. For example, the creation of panels or information material on feeding, the risks of poisoning, etc. is needed.