12 partners from the partners in the LETSFS project gathered in Malmö in May to talk about CSA and urban agriculture in Malmö.
Thursday 21st May
In the evening we had a first meeting for everyone to get to know each other at Sofielunds Folekts Hus. The participants had a chance to talk about themselves and the CSA projects they were involved in.
Friday 22nd May
An intensive day spent partly inside and partly outside. The group was expanded to include a number of stakeholders from Malmö, both municipal and those active in CSAs and urban gardening projects. At the environment department there were presentations from the environment department, streets and parks department and estate department of the municipality. Martin and Lina from Gothenburg also told us about how they are working with urban gardening.
We had a workshop where participants divided themselves into groups to discuss four questions relating to CSA and urban gardening:
- How does it work in your city, regarding municipal involvement in this area?
The groups reported a variety of experiences. Both Malmö and Stockholm have seen an increase in the demand from its citizens for land, not just for growing food, but also for social inclusion projects. In Hungary the local government supports with land but that is all, and community gardens are valuable as educational resources. In Italy the municipalities give allotments to residents of a certain age, and in Prague the city needs to work out how to deal with the demand. There is not much support in Hamburg, and in Poland you can lease land from the city.
- What are the advantages and possibilities of municipal involvement based on experiences in your group? It was seen as an advantage by many to have a positive and open minded municipality. The money they spent was seen to be an investment rather than a cost for the municipality. Important to keep land public, they also provide structure and support and can involve lots of people. Not all cities/countries have municipal involvement.
- What are the disadvantages and challenges of municipal involvement, based on experiences in your group?
The mentality of people needs to change. There is an issue of trust between municipalities and its citizens. Things take time with a municipality, and there is a lot of bureaucracy which makes things difficult for many small producers. There is also a risk that the municipality does things that are not popular with its citizens.
- What insights have I/we gained from these discussions?
Involve municipality and show that there are more than social and environmental gains to be made from urban gardening and farming. Problems are the same no matter which country you are in. Collaboration and sharing is important. Everyone found there were differences in different countries.
We had lunch from raw food, a company that collects unwanted food from companies and shops and recycles it into yummy lunches!
After lunch we listened to presentations from Jenny Sjöblom, a student conducting research into CSAs in Sweden. Jenny presented her research and showed that the concept of CSA is still very new and alien to many Swedes and that it can take time for people to understand the system.
Henrique then presented hemmaodlat, the CSA that he is involved in based around aquaponics. Finally Anna talked about the Community Supported Fishery based in Malmö, providing fresh fish to Malmö residents caught in local waters by local fisherman using sustainable fishing techniques.
Afterwards we cycled to Västra Skrävlinge and visited Stadsbruk urban farm. Göran and Johan, the farming coordinators showed us round the project and we met a few of the growers involved in this existing project. The project is based in Västra Skrävlinge, but has sites in two other places in Malmö and they hope to expand even more! The project aims to help people realize their ambitions to earn money from growing crops in an urban setting. The project is being supported by the Swedish Innovation Fund, Malmö, Gothenburg, Kristianstad and Väjxö.
We then walked (a bit too far!) and visited an allotment where there were many migrants who had allotments and grew a lot of the food needed for their families.
Dinner was at Yalla Trappan, a catering cooperative run by migrant women from the local area. We rounded off a long day with some reflections regarding what we had learnt. Here are our golden nuggets from the day:
Jenny’s presentation gave insight into what is happening in the CSA scene in Sweden, Impressed with engagement and attitude of municipalities (Gothenburg and Malmö), everyone asking so many questions – everyone showing deep interest and engagement in the subject.
Saturday 23rd May
Saturday morning we started at 9 am with a bus trip out to Hardeberga. In the grounds of a Waldorf school Emil Hillve has started a CSA as well as growing food for the school kitchen and vegetable boxes for the parents. He showed us around the site, talked about the problems of planting crops so that they were ready at the right times and not all in the summer when the school is closed, and how they have to tackle a major slug problem!
We got to help Emil with planting of sweet corn, courgette, pumpkin and cucumbers. We also got to do weeding. We then had a DIY lunch with Thai spring rolls and rhubarb crumble and vanilla sauce for desert, the rhubarb coming from the garden of course! There was also a good selection of local greens from the fields and woods around the school picked by Iva and Lucie.
After lunch we drove north again to Marcellos Farm, a CSA on a rather larger scale. It is a 200 hectare mixed organic farm (cattle and vegetables) run on bio dynamic principles. There we met Inge who showed us around the farm, a journey that we had to make in silence so that we could make our own connection to the farm. Walking in silence was quite a challenge!
Inge is from Holland and bought the farm with her husband when they could not find a farm in Holland that they could buy. All of the vegetables are not sold through a CSA, the majority are sold through traditional channels (markets, wholesalers, restaurants etc).
When we got back there was a chance to ask Inge questions and discuss our impressions of the farm. Juliette made us a delicious dinner, and then there was a chance to have a final discussion about the impressions of the past couple of days.
Authorities need to be open minded, we need to educate our children; use the right language so that municipalities understand us (e.g. business models etc); value of involvement of municipality in Sweden is amazing; there is a value in leftover food; acting is the best thing you can do if you believe in your project; CSA is a model for small gardeners and big farmers, can be part of another project/business; CSA can be a lot of things.
A few final thoughts are included here: It is positive that local government are willing to invest in projects, BUT, projects are short term and a more secure financial plan needs to be found. IN addition it was noted that each country is different and what works in one does not work in another. We have to create our own language and show both the business and green side of CSA so more understand and more municipalities can support the idea.
Finally we also discussed the need for a network and what form it could take. There is an international network (URGENCI) with different national CSA organisations represented there (Sweden has no national CSA group so is not in the network).
Why do we need a network?
Network good for civil society, gives a voice, and way of communicating with municipalities and government. Shared knowledge, seed exchange.
How can we make it thrive?
Ask for new funds, show Grundtvig that we have just started something and we want to take a step further. Networking to write a project together. Meet, share and maintain exchange. Relationship building.
What do we do next?
Platforming to make a strong group that investigates what the different governments do in different countries; URGENCI meeting in Milan.
Meet once a year, meet in person, use an existing platform or create new forum. Apply to meet again and create a platform – web based.
As the temperature dropped and the sun began to set we headed back to the bus and back to Malmö. A long but instructive day!
Sunday 24th May
We set off at 10 am for a leisurely stroll through Sofielund in Malmö to our first destination, Seved. This is a fairly deprived area of Malmö where there is a strong immigrant community. The Seved gardening network run by Linnea and Maria aims to get local people involved in gardening.
They have a community garden and a growing wall that local people help to tend. Maria and Linnea welcomed us with coffee and chocolate cake and we sat in the sunshine and discussed the project and the difficulties of keeping people involved and funding such programmes. We even had a couple of local resident s come and listen!
We then walked to Augustenborg, past Greenhouse, a new apartment block currently being built in Malmö that will give residents larger balconies where they can grow vegetables and flowers as well as access to a greenhouse on the roof. Niklas and Henrik met us the final stop which was Hemmaodlat. This is a very different and new CSA. They are using the system of aquaponics to grow their crops, which makes it perfect for the indoor, urban environment.
The weekend offered many different approaches and to urban farming, on different scales too. As Jenny mentioned on Friday the concept of CSAs and more solidarity based food systems is still relatively new in Sweden and the forms it can take are still taking shape. No two countries are the same and each seems to take a different approach based on
Thank you to all who participated!
An extra thank you for all the pictures as well!
Partners who attended:
Helen Nilsson, City of Malmö (Host)
Adrianna Augustyniak, Poland
Bartlomiej Kemblowski, Poland
Mauro Testa, Italy
Manuela Grisanti, Italy
Enrica Lia, Italy
Adelaide, Strada Italy
Iva Reisz, Croatia
Ileana Faidutti, Italy
Anikó Haraszti, Hungary
Melinda Kassai, Hungary
Lucie Lankašová Matoušková, Czech