2015 | Dec
Community Supported Agriculture introduces the concept of solidarity agriculture through the mutually beneficial cooperation of a producer (or a group of producers in a rural area) and a group of consumers in a city. Every week, producers supply consumers with a basket of fresh organic vegetables (and sometimes other farm products, such as fruit, eggs, poultry, milk…), based on an agreement made at the beginning of the growing season. The agreement predetermines the range of the basket’s products depending on the season and its cost, at a price that is fair for both parties. Consumers prepay for the seasonal baskets, thus actively supporting the producer (Cox et al. 2008).
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative model for organising agricultural production and the entire agro-food chain, at a territorial level, without trade intermediaries. Producers come into direct contact with consumers in the group, to discuss and jointly decide on cultivation practices, the content of the basket and practical issues regarding deliveries and payments. In short, this is yet another form of a short food supply chain, where farmers and consumers develop close ties, based on mutual trust, within the framework of a nascent “network of citizens” (Renting et al. 2012). In this way, the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared by all. For producers, participation in a CSA network offers financial security, thanks to assured purchases even in adverse growing seasons, tackling natural and economic risks. Consumers are given the opportunity to follow a balanced healthy diet, to rediscover their connection with the countryside and to be active citizens, contributing to the preservation of the environment and biodiversity (organic farming, use of local seeds) and the socio-economic fabric of rural communities.
A variety of such systems, which expand local markets and small distribution networks, are essentially voluntary steps and collective initiatives (Allaire, 2013).They may be led by farmers, such as the well-known AMAPs in France (Association for the Conservation of Territorial Agriculture) or by consumers, such as the Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale (Solidarity Purchasing Groups in Italy) or even guided by distribution networks (such as solidarity trade). In any case, CSA defends and supports small family farming and domestic processing, local products with a designated origin and distinct taste, organic and biodynamic production methods by environmentally conscious producers who nurture biodiversity, protect public health and work against price volatility. CSA targets the city’s active consumers who are critical of large transnational distribution networks and the global food industry.
CSA developed in Europe in the 1960s (particularly in Switzerland and Germany) when cities started spreading rapidly, while agriculture was cut off from industrial production areas and rural societies were caught in the turmoil of rural modernisation and industrialisation. The CSA movement is currently gaining ground as dietary risks intensify and the journey of food from farm to table lengthens. Today, various CSA schemes exist in different forms around the world. The central idea may be the same, but its implementation, its name, the structure of the network and the extent of commitment are different (Schlicht et al. 2014).
- Allaire G (2013) Προϊόντα του τόπου (terroir): πολιτισμικές διαστάσεις και προσδοκίες της κοινωνίας. 1η έκδ. Στο: Ανθοπούλου Θ (επιμ.), Περί εντοπιότητας και ιδιοτυπίας των τροφίμων. Μια εδαφική προσέγγιση της ανάπτυξης των αγροτικών περιοχών, Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση, σσ 106–120.
- Παρταλίδου Μ και Ανθοπούλου Θ (2015) Εναλλακτικά αγροτροφικά δίκτυα και νέες αλληλέγγυες εταιρικότητες μεταξύ πόλης και υπαίθρου. Διερευνώντας την κοινοτικά υποστηριζόμενη γεωργία. Γεωγραφίες 25: 13–23.
- Cox R, Holloway L, Venn L, et al. (2008) Common ground? Motivations for participation in a community-supported agriculture scheme. Local Environment, Taylor & Francis 13(3): 203–218.
- Renting H, Schermer M and Rossi A (2012) Building Food Democracy : Exploring Civic Food Networks and Newly Emerging Forms of Food Citizenship. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 19(3): 289–307.
- Schlicht S, Volz P, Weckenbrock P, et al. (2014) Community Supported Agriculture: An overview of characteristics, diffusion and political interaction in France, Germany, Britain and Switzerland. Acteon. Available from: http://www.agronauten.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Community-Supported-Agriculture-An-overview-of-characteristics-diffusion-and-political-interaction-in-France-Germany-Belgium-and-Switzerland.pdf.
Information on community supported farming and solidary economy:
- AMAP- Association pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne, France: http://www.reseau-amap.org/amap.php
- GAS- Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, Italy: http://www.retegas.org/index.php
- GASAP- Groupes d’Achat Solidaires de l’Agriculture Paysanne, Belgium: http://www.gasap.be/
On the Agronauts: