Find out more about who we are
URGENCI is the international grassroot network of all forms of regional and Local Solidarity-based Partnerships for Agroecology (LSPAs), of which Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the best-known iteration. URGENCI is an acronym standing for An Urban-Rural networks: GEnerating New forms of exchanges between CItizens. As a social movement, Réseau International URGENCI brings together citizens, small-scale food producers, consumers, activists and researchers representing Local Solidarity-based Partnerships for Agroecology networks and initiatives in over 40 countries.
URGENCI’s main objective is to develop a transnational network of regional and local partnerships between producers and consumers. Education, broadly, is the founding activity of the network: sharing experiences and educational materials is a top priority to support local groups in improving their practices and building a solid pan-European and global community. This practical work to build, develop, and empower LSPAs is motivated by our involvement in the international movements for food sovereignty and solidarity economy. URGENCI’s strength lies in its in-house expertise with knowledge sharing, transmission, and delivery in the context of adult education and training programs. Much of our work connects people and networks across borders so that they may learn from each other through development and the sharing of practical tools.
We counter the problems of intensive agricultural production and distribution with the solution of connecting family farmers to just, equitable and supportive markets. We are committed to partnership, local exchange, and direct relationships where producers are fairly paid and consumers share the risks and rewards of sustainable agriculture in return for their share of healthy, nutritious, locally-grown food. We frequently have mechanisms for social inclusion of marginalised families. Both LSPA farmers and consumers are also committed to agroecology and all farming practices that protect healthy soil and biodiversity, fight the climate crisis and foster social solidarity economy.
Building trust-based direct relationships between producers and consumers has enabled millions of people around the world to have affordable access to fresh, healthy, nutritious food, while ensuring decent livelihoods for producers. We are committed to our objectives to:
- Promote the local solidarity-based partnership concept globally.
- Facilitate exchange between existing partnerships, share best practice and challenges.
- Strengthen the mobilisation of local networks and develop tools to increase their viability.
- Coordinate actions and alliances with other food sovereignty and solidarity actors at international level.
- Promote agroecology, food sovereignty and solidarity economy policies in international, national and local public institutions.
What are LSPAs?
Local Solidarity-based Partnerships for Agroecology (LSPA) initiatives typically involve multiple stakeholders from the local food systems: producers, consumers, researchers, local officials, etc.. They are based upon partnership, local exchange, or direct relationships where producers can earn decent livelihoods, and consumers share the risks and rewards of sustainable agriculture in return for their share of healthy, nutritious, locally- grown food. There is no fixed way of organizing these partnerships: it is a framework to inspire communities to work together with their local farmers, provide mutual benefits and social cohesion, and reconnect people with one another and to the land where their food is grown. These partnerships are experiments of social innovation defined by their values rather than fixed operational mechanisms or schemes.
In most countries where it has taken root, CSA can also be described as a contract-based direct sales system. The key characteristics for CSA also include up-front payment of a share of season’s worth of vegetables and long-term commitment to a farmer. However, CSA is just one of the various forms of LSPA. There are other types of LSPA. For example, some farmers’ markets can reasonably be considered as LSPAs, if farmers effectively come to sell their own products, and if the farmers’ markets are established on a set of commitments. Similarly, some food cooperatives are based on partnerships. Even if most of them are not direct sales, but rather function as intermediaries, they provide a logistical platform, buy from multiple farms and sell to multiple groups, and some can effectively be considered as LSPAs.
Instead of setting technical standards or set operational mechanisms or schemes, the members of URGENCI are united in their belief in the following 4 fundamental ideas as a set of key common values:
- Local: the idea is to build a close and trusting relationship between the producer(s) and the “eaters”. This is best done through frequent face-to-face encounters that require geographical proximity.
- Solidarity-based: the key motivation in this model is to support producers from the same area.
- Partnership: food activists forge a new type of alliance between producers and the people they feed.
- For Agroecology: a partnership relies on a mutual relationship, where the main counterpart for the consumers’ support is the producer’s commitment to agroecological principles.