The connection between the people and the land had begun to disappear by the beginning of the 20th century. As an outcome of free trade in the last decades, family-scale farms could not afford to sustain themselves anymore. Additional food crises such as products contaminated with GMOs and chemical pollutants eroded the confidence in imported foods from industrial-scale farms. Considering all of these issues, CSA provides a path back towards our roots, while offering health and local economic recovery at the same time. CSA started as a concept in the 70’s in Japan and Switzerland, in the 80’s this ideology spread to the USA and other European countries.
CSA is a system that connects farmers and active citizens around locally grown food. This locavore system ensures the commitment of consumers to local farms while sharing the risks and the gifts of ecological farming. CSA is a manifestation of the local food movement that urges citizens to take responsibility for the land where their food is grown and how their food is produced with an overarching goal of strengthening a sense of community.
According to URGENCI (The International Network of Community Supported Agriculture), CSA is described as below: “Local solidarity-based partnerships between farmers and the people they feed are, in essence, a member-farmer cooperative, whoever initiates it and whatever legal form it takes. There is no fixed way of organising these partnerships, it is a framework to inspire communities to work together with their local farmers, provide mutual benefits and reconnect people to the land where their food is grown."
How It Works?
CSA is a food system in which consumers subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms, buying a share (either membership or subscription). During the agricultural season, in return of the consumers’ share, at specified time intervals, farms send a package (either box or basket) of seasonal produce or other farm goods, including fruits, vegetables, dried goods, eggs, milk, meat, etc.
The partnerships should be on the basis of mutual understanding, it should take into account every incident that is likely to occur. This partnership is a friendly commitment rather than just trading of the seasonal food produced. At the end, everything must be based on mutual cooperation.
The emphasis on community and local produce increases local exchange, while nourishing both part of this partnership, consumers and producers. Local culture could be cultivated by the dissemination of local ways of cooking and local events introducing their surroundings.
Farmers can inform consumers about the production situation or invite them to harvest or events organized in their farm to cultivate one-to-one relationships based on trust. In return, consumers get transparency regarding the harvest of the farm, either surplus or loss.
The consumers and farmers share the risks and benefits of farming, while making an exchange with fair prices and fair wages. Family-scale farms can co-exist with industry-scale farms due to earlier payments received, while consumers can reach fresh and nutritious foods with more affordable prices.