In August 2000, Beverly Ott and Olivier Hauville bought an old farm in the French countryside; a childhood dream of Beverly who wanted to raise sheep and a memory for Olivier who grew up on a farm as a small child. But also for this couple who had lived for years working in Africa, the farm would be also an alternative for a retirement plan that they would never otherwise have. Little did they know the history of the place, nor the wealth of the people they would meet over the years.
For Olivier who studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Aix-en-Provence this was also an opportunity to better understand the world of farming and to test solutions to support the small farm movement all over the world. It is they who hold the world’s future in their hands. (A permaculture project is beginning on site.)
American, Beverly studied social sciences at the University of Manchester and Indiana University in the USA, and specialized in women’s entrepreneurship issues, particularly in West Africa.
Both wanted, upon returning to the Western World, to offer “another air to breathe” ( as wrote Herman Hesse in his book Steppenwolf); another air meaning leaving the “busy-ness” of cities that with their ring roads go round and round but often only end in traffic jams! But also being a part of the world’s reality in animating changes through fair trade and the l’investments in alternative forms of action for change.
It is in Chad that Olivier and Beverly met in 1986. In 1990, they created the association ECHOPPE (Exchange for the Organisation and the Promotion of “Petits” Entrepreneurs) working for the very poorest in Togo and Bénin via micro-crédits for women in urban areas and today, helping small farmers in Togo to take on agro-écology and to support their fight for land rights and against the deforestation that is taking over Africa. (visiter: www.echoppe.org) They continue to regularly travel to Togo to support the work and to share with the world what is happening there.