Towards a European Declaration on CSA!

This is an invitation to all CSA-initiatives and their network organisations in Europe:

 Let’s write a European Declaration on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) !

 We, the members of the CSA Movement, are inviting your CSA-initiative or network organization, to join the drafting process of a European CSA Declaration.

This invitation is a follow-up to the 2nd European meeting of CSAs, in March 2014, where European CSAs agreed on the need to develop a Declaration of the common values and principles of the European solidarity-based production and distribution systems”.

We believe the time is ripe to make a clear political statement as a united European CSA Movement and to come up with a fundamental text, a Declaration or a Charter, stating explicitly what constitutes our CSA Common Ground in Europe.

> Why do we need a Declaration? We need it to :

  1. Strengthen our mutual understanding and share our principles as a European CSA Movement as well as to inspire different actors in their challenging contexts.
  2. Declare who we are and what we want. We are confronted with the rise of business-driven initiatives that refer to the same principles as we do. We need to ensure that the corporate agribusiness will not capture and abuse our practice and the principles that belong to communities and use them as as a marketing brand;
  3. Formulate our collective asks. If we, the European CSA Movement don’t collectively raise our voice in the name of our initiatives, someone else will speak on our behalf. And there is no guarantee that this will serve CSA family farmers, grass-root activists and the Food Sovereignty we all strive to achieve. Corporate capture of the local food and short-supply chain issue has started to happen at European level. Furthermore, even friendly initiatives can be damaging, if the right information about what CSAs really are, is not disseminated at the right time and to the right people.
  4. Agree on a common baseline as a European CSA movement, so that we can refer to it whenever we take position in the name of our movement, when were are advocating in favour of CSAs and small scale farming. We need to be able to do this in a more focused, transparent and efficient way!

For all these reasons, a common Declaration stating the core values, objectives, definitions and diversity of the European CSA movements, should be agreed on during the 3rd European Meeting of CSAs in Autumn 2016.

The nature of the Declaration still needs to be collectively drafted. Yet, there are 2 principles that have already emerged from various discussions within the Kernel and during the 2nd European Meeting of CSAs:

  • Firstly, the Declaration will not try to achieve standardization. According to Urgenci’s estimations based on the figures collected in 16 different European countries, there were at least 4,000 CSA groups in 2014, involving nearly 465,000 consumers and 6,300 farms. Given such growing diversity, the Kernel, and its supporting organization Urgenci, promote CSA as a cross-border and context-sensitive concept rather than a unique model. Our network thus gives voice to experiences from different backgrounds, ranging from the subsistence family-farming model in Romania to well-established organic certified farms in England. The Declaration should reflect this diversity rather than hinder it.
  • Secondly, the Declaration will undergo a constant rewriting process after its first version that will be presented in the Czech Republic, during the 3rd European Meeting of CSAs, in Autumn 2016.

> What would the role of your organization be in this process?

We are aware of the importance of the work done by your organization in your home country, and also of the challenges a national or local CSA network faces.

Yet, based on the previous experience in France, the United Kingdom, Austria, and other countries, we see this European Declaration writing process as an option to (re)mobilize the farmers and the consumers, to (re)state and communicate the main principles of organising CSAs, as well as to consolidate your position (inter)nationally.

We want to build an inclusive process, based on national writing workshops in 15 different countries, combined with 2 Harmonization Workshops organized at European level. We want this process to take time, at least18 months, in order to allow space for maturing, feedback, and to consolidate a first draft. Such an important text really needs to be shared between all members of the movement.

Urgenci has secured some funding to organize 1 or 2 national writing workshops in each participating country, 2 European harmonization workshops, and to coordinate the specific follow-up for all the contributions. Additionally, we suggest using meetings that have already been planned at national level for this purpose if possible.

If your organization is willing and interested in joining the process, we would be happy to help you to be represented at the 1st Common Ground meeting, to be held in Milan, 6-7 June 2015 (begins early on 6th of June).

The preliminary agenda for this meeting is:

  1. Sharing experience about Charter writing processes (from the UK, France, Austria…)
  2. Defining the scope of the declaration itself
  3. Elaborating methodological tools to support the process
  4. Setting the calendar for the process

Additionally, we would ask you to send us beforehand any fundamental text that your movement has been using as its cornerstone.

Finally, you are of course also formally invited to join the preparatory calls. The next one will be organized via skype, on the 4th of May, at 14.00 (Central European Time). For any information, please use “contact@urgenci.net”.

CSAlly yours, The European Kernel.

The Kernel is a coordination body that was set at the first European Meeting of CSA movements and other distribution systems for food sovereignty, in october 2012 in Milan. Its role is to monitor the progress of the working groups at the European level and to prepare the next European meetings.

Aubagne, April 20th, 2015.