Friday, 30 March 2012

The French village that gives out hens

"This is a radical solution! I think it is called Permaculture

French Village to hand out free waste disposal units — Chickens

29 March, 2012

A tiny village in North West France has come up with a novel waste disposal scheme combining cost saving, environmental and social benefits.

One of the teams on last night’s airing of ‘The Apprentice’ on BBC1 last night came up with the idea of a ‘compost compressor’ as a ‘must-have’ home gadget to market to major retailers. The newly 'invented' compost compressor looked and functioned like an oversized cafetière.

Here in Sarthe department in France, the tiny village of Pincé (pop.206) is about to prove that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to solve an everyday problem. Following a village council meeting last Wednesday, the Maire (mayor) of Pincé is proposing to offer two laying hens to every village household to reduce the amount of organic waste.

"It's a way to both reduce the amount of waste, to play an educational role for children and cost savings given the current surge in the price of eggs," Maire Lydie Pasteau is reported as saying in the local regional newspaper Ouest-France.

Councils in France are under pressure to reduce the amount of waste heading for landfill sites. Failure to reduce waste in accordance with targets fixed by the European Union could result in substantial fines being imposed on the French sate for non-compliance.

The village of Pincé lies within one of the major French poultry rearing areas centred on the town of Loué. Loué eggs and poultry are renowned throughout France. Eggs carrying ‘Label Rouge’ French mark of quality and produced in areas around Loué are produced from hens having daily access to the open air and fed in accordance with strict environmental standards. It was natural that Pincé should look to a local solution to solve a local problem.

It is reckoned that each hen can ‘process’ about 150 kilogrammes (about 330 pounds) of organic waste per annum. The bonus, of course, is that the hens lay eggs – on average 200 eggs per bird per year.

Pincé’s mayor conceded that, at first, the idea seemed something of a joke but the more it was discussed, the more its advantages became apparent:

It reduces waste that would otherwise go to landfill

After the initial outlay, the village saves on waste transport trips

It improves diet from a natural food

The mayor also felt that the scheme was likely to improve social ties in the village saying, “Just as villagers already look after neighbours’ dogs and cats during holiday periods, then they’ll also keep an eye on the hens!”

Under the scheme, each village household interested in acquiring its living waste disposal units would receive a pair of hens in September. Those receiving hens would require to undertake that the birds would be well treated, properly fed and were housed so as not to cause a nuisance.

The cost to the village would be between eight and ten euros per hen – that about €20 cheaper than the ‘Eco waste compressor’ which the boys' team dreamt up on ‘The Apprentice’ last night.

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