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Short food supply chains

Posted on | February 5, 2015 | Comments Off

WG2 – Short food supply chains (regional products; farmers’ markets; collective farmers’ marketing initiatives; alternative food networks; CSA)

“Our workshop will bring a particular focus on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model and its relations to the other alternative food systems. Even if further research needs to be done to characterize the different CSA movements with more precision, there is a shared feeling among the various geographical branches to belong to the same larger, worldwide movement. The workshop is designed to explore the actors’ efforts to consolidate the CSAs as a social movement through field practices (Participatory Guarantee Systems), institutions (charter writing processes, national and regional networks), informal adult education (European CSA Training Program, local educational activities in various countries) or through meetings.

One issue is the multiple meanings CSA have can haven in a single country. For example, in the Hungarian CSA movement alone, with only 10 projects running in 2013, there is a distinction between “share ml” and “box scheme model”(1). Additionally, there are regional specificities: in the new EU member states it is a challenge to manage trust between consumers and producers who have prejudice about the community-based operations due to the enforced co-operatives of the socialist era. In Korea, and more widely in the Asian context, the ‘box scheme model’ is blossoming while the ‘share model’ is less successful. Let’s explore the creativity and the diversity of the movement.

The second axis should be an investigation on the attempts to set boundaries that clearly separates CSA from a purely “business driven model”. A common rule that is emerging from the existing Charters (France and the UK) is that CSA requires a strong commitment, since it relies havily on the voluntary work of consumers and involvement in a solidarity-based not-for-profit rather then market-oriented interest. The case of the very detailed regulation passed in 2014 in the State of California, backed by local CSA farmers and a CSA network called “the community Alliance for Family Farmers, is very interesting (2). It shows that there is an strong feeling about the need to act in order to protect against “non farm-based aggregated box schemes” from calling themselves CSA. The onging debate on a very successful Internet platform-based box scheme in France, and the tensions with the CSA movement, are another sign of the same phenomenon. In these non-CSA businesses, flexibility is presented as an asset, and compared with the rigidity of the traditional CSA model. Based on concrete local food movements’ experiences studies in Asia, the Americas and Europe, we will try to answer the following questions. How can the current proliferation of CSA-like initiatives feed the whole movement (and not just the most flexible models), and be promoted in a way that acknowledges the complementarity of the various alternative food systems? How can we accommodate social, ecological, and economic vitality in the local food movement? Do we want a local food ‘movement’ or local food ‘systems?’

(1) Zoltan Dezseny, Emergence of Community Supported Agriculture in Hungary: A Case Study of Sustainable Rural Enterprises, Davis: University of California Davis (Master’s Thesis),
2013, pp. 62-63.

(2) California State Assembly, “Article 6: Community supported agriculture”, Assembly Bill no. 224, Chapter 404, paragraph 47060, 28 September 2013.

Convenors:

Jocelyn Parot, Urgenci the international network of CSA Movements, France
Chul-Kyoo Kim, Korea University, Korea

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