National CSA Meeting in Norway

By Alexandra Devik, Organic Norway

(Front picture: Group work, discussing communication strategies in Norwegian CSAs. Photo Credit: Organic Norway)

The CSA movement in Norway is growing larger year by year. As per December 2019 there are 82 active CSAs in Norway. Given that Norway is a small country with only around 5,3 million inhabitants and around 3 % of the land area being suitable for agriculture, the number of CSAs is relatively high compared to our neighbouring countries. Each year the informal network gathers to get the latest update on the CSA model in Norway and to learn and be inspired by best practices from each other.

Yearly meeting on November 15th in Oslo

The most important event for CSAs in Norway is the national meeting organised by Organic Norway, coordinating the informal network of CSAs. In total 60 people were gathered for inspiration, updates, new knowledge and networking. In total 21 of the CSAs where represented, often with 2-3 persons from each CSA. Most Norwegian CSAs produce vegetables, but a few also have meat and dairy production. 4.300 shares were sold at Norwegian CSAs in 2018, with almost 9500 people eating from those shares.

National meeting for CSAs in Norway. Photo: Organic Norway

On the agenda

The day started with greetings from the two farmer unions organizing all farmers in Norway. The head of the small-scale farmers’ union said: “CSAs are good arenas for knowledge building for consumers who are concerned about food production, where the food comes from and how much work which is required to succeed with food production! These consumers represent an important alliance for us working in agriculture”.

Other topics being discussed was how to secure a sustainable economy, and how to work with recruiting members to CSAs and how to succeed with communication within the CSA. There was also talks about two recent research projects and information about ongoing work on how to involve dairy- and meat production in the CSA model.

Nathalie Keene sharing her knowledge and experience. Photo: Organic Norway

Networking and experience sharing

There is a wide range of different CSAs in Norway, but there is always a lot to learn from each other. Many Norwegian CSAs are consumer-organized and hire a gardener for vegetable production in or near cities, whereas others are based around an already-existing traditional farm with large-scale production combined with a small number of shareholders. Others have developed their farm into a marked garden growing a variety of crops and having consumers taking part of sharing the risk. It is always very useful to work in groups and exchange practices and ideas during the national network meeting. After the formal program, most of the participants joined for organic vegetarian pizza and continued socializing through the evening.