AlterMonts is a farm-based, organic and collective cheese factory!
It results from 6 years of pondering and discussion, then 2 years of mental and physical construction by 9 farmers from 4 farms in the Monts du Lyonnais. Our farms are family farms that have been producing milk for several decades! The Monts du Lyonnais is a lively and dynamic territory of small hills between Lyon and St Etienne. It is a milk production centre and a consumer base we care very much about and wish to boost. We are doing this by re-localising a small part of the dairy processes for the milk produced here. This is why we have included the name of this territory, “Monts”, in the name of the cheese factory, and the prefix “Alter” underlines the alternative and innovative side of our structure (We are the only organic, farm-based and collective cheese factory within a radius of 200km!).
To limit milk transportation, we have set up our cheese factory in the centre of our four farms in Saint-Denis-sur-Coise. Additionally, to limit our environmental impact in this area, we transport milk in a truck that runs on natural gas for vehicles from a methane plant near our cheese factory. Our 4 farms produce certified organic milk with 4 herds of dairy cows that we are committed to pasturing for at least 8 months out of 12. During the other 4 months, they eat the fodder we produce during the summer and stay in the livestock buildings. We supplement our cows' food with the grain we produce and maize that we buy from farms in the region. We also produce some heritage varieties of wheat that we process into flour and sell locally.
AlterMonts is a structure that makes it possible to create jobs (2 employees for the moment) and to perpetuate jobs on our farms (our 4 farms employ 13 people) by ensuring fair remuneration for the milk we produce and, therefore, we can live with dignity.
AlterMonts is a cheese factory, but we have also chosen to make it a tool for agro-ecological and societal transition. To achieve this we have committed ourselves to a common set of guidelines. The first pillar is organic farming, but we wanted to supplement it with elements not taken into account by this label. In particular, we are committed to ensuring that farms are energy producers with the presence of photovoltaic panels, as well as replanting hedges to limit erosion and foster biodiversity. To encourage the latter, we use heritage seeds for our grain and maize crops. We also engage in green waste recovery and tillage control practices to store carbon and improve soil life. Indeed, current research shows that intensive farming practices (use of pesticides, fertilisers, deep ploughing, etc.) have destroyed soil life. By incorporating green waste (ground plant matter from landfills) into our soil, we are seeking to increase the level of organic matter it contains in order to feed the fauna (earthworms and other microorganisms) that live in it.