CSA4Europe, an EU-funded Community Supported Agriculture project, held its final meeting in Vienna.
Urgenci has played a leading role in sharing programmes developed by numerous European organisations acting in the field of Solidarity–based Economy for several years. Especially, CSA4Europe, a project led by Urgenci that focussed on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) exchange between 8 different countries, has been widely recognised as a valid model.
This 2-year project finished at the end of July. The final meeting took place 4-7 July in a monastery that is also a biodynamic farm near Vienna, Austria. 17 representatives from the 8 participating organisations reflected on the results of the project: altogether, 2,000 activists (300 farmers and 1,700 consumers) had participated in the project’s activities, and more than 120 were offered the opportunity to travel to another country on one of the exchange visits.
Even if it is difficult to evaluate the exact contribution of this programme to the growth of the Community Supported Agriculture movement in Europe, it is undeniably one of the key reasons for the exponential development in the UK (currently 200 established or fledgling CSAs) and in Germany (80-100 in 2013, up from a mere 20-25 just 2 years ago), and for the consolidation of initiatives in Hungary (6), Greece (3), Slovakia (3). In Austria and the Czech Republic, there are a few reinforced pure CSAs, but also dozens other initiatives that have emerged in the field opened by the CSA movements.
During the meeting in Vienna, the participants also reflected on their common heritage: what will be left once the project has ended. They put the finishing touches to the European CSA toolkit, and agreed on the main axes of a 2nd European meeting on CSA, to be held next winter in Brussels (dates and venue to be announced later on www.urgenci.net and blog.urgenci.net).
The Second European CSA movement meeting will focus on building shared principles, strengthening local and national networks, and on advocacy actions that will target European institutions (Commission, European Parliament) and the United Nations (FAO and Committee for World Food Security through the Civil Society Mechanism where we are already represented). The two key challenges we need to address will be:
1. How to ensure solidarity and community are built into and maintained at the heart of local food systems? What are our shared principles and how can we best communicate and disseminate them as a social movement?
2. What are the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture and other Distribution Systems for Food Sovereignty for society as a whole, especially from the perspective of social cohesion and social and economic change? What is our movement’s contribution to the sector of Social and Solidarity-based Economy?
This meeting will be a follow up of the first European meeting on CSA and emerging distribution systems that brought together 120 participants from 25 different European countries last year in Milan. The core issue discussed there during 3 days was “How to share, our CSA stories from the field, in a decentralised way?”.