URGENCI, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)1 network and its national members from 12 European countries held an advocacy capacity building session in Brussels. This training session took place on the 14th, 15th, 16th of May. CSA advocates had an unprecedented opportunity to share experience and to refine their key messages.
URGENCI and its members believe it is high time to raise the voices of CSA. In the run up to the European elections, candidates should listen carefully to the voices of this grassroots movements. “The specificity of CSA is that it is a concrete step towards a new social contract between producers and the societies they feed” explains Mathias von Mirbach, a CSA farmer from Germany. CSA is one of the most effective tools to help sustainable family farmers and conscious consumers regain control of local and territorial food systems. The CSA model is highly efficient when it comes to fighting food waste, preserving cultivated agro-biodiversity and consolidating local economies and employment. The nutrition provided by fresh, local agroecologically grown fruit and vegetables is now recognised as essential in fighting Non Communicable Disesases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity and heart problems and cancer. CSA initiatives therefore make a direct contribution to improving the health of European citizens. Its social and environmental contributions should be more clearly recognised. Direct payments and other measures of direct support should be directed towards producers who sell locally through CSA and other direct schemes.
These voices join the vibrant call for a Common Food Policy: there is a urgent need to repair the lack of coherence between policies implemented by the different DGs of the European Commission. We need to connect agriculture with health and nutrition, social inclusion and the environment. It is vital for thousands of CSA farms across Europe to ensure that agroecology and sustainability are promoted as overarching principles, and are prioritised over industrial agriculture, competition and corporate profits. “As part of the Nyeleni Europe Movement for Food Sovereignty, we in URGENCI are convinced that it is equally essential to ensure small-scale agroecological producers are at the core of this radical change towards a Common Food Policy, and ensure European citizens have access to healthy, nutritious food”, stresses Isabel Alvarez, Vice-President of URGENCI.
Now is the time for radical change. A change that is already well under way in the CSA. movement.
1Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct partnership between people and one or several producer(s), whereby the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared, through a long-term, binding agreement.