By Zsofia Perenyi, TVE, also Special Expert on Education and Training in URGENCI,
There is a wonderful CSA farm in West part of Hungary, in a small village called Dunasziget. It is like a little fairy-tale land: a beautifully renovated hundred-year-old adobe house hides in the trees, at the end of the farm with a blind channel of the Danube. Anna and Ferenc, the two farmers, follows permaculture and produces for 50 families since 2013. We always thought they could not have problems with community building because the farmers have been always really engaged into community building activities. So, when they applied as hosts for our 3 days long Food&More training, we did not expect any difficulties. Well, our journey was not as smooth as we planned, but we learnt a lot from this experience.
When we started to discuss their CSA community, it turned out that almost all the community related task and activity lies on the farmer’s couple shoulders. They not only do the production, but also organize the deliveries, farm visits, write the mailing list, share the recipes, and also do all the community related activities. All the families seemed to be grateful for this, but the farmers started to feel at the beginning they did not imagine their CSA like that. As they explained, community related activities became a “service” and it was inconvenient to ask the help of the members. More, they wanted the members to feel the CSA theirs too.
So, we tried to find at least 12 members to our three-day-long training. This was the first difficulty. As this was finally a covid free summer, everyone seemed to be busy, and we could just organize the first day of the training as a “special farm visit”. Finally, the rest two training days could happen in end of October. After many phone calls, emails, planning and discussions… It was a bit cold already at the farm, but more than 15 members came to learn how they can participate more in everyday operation. They could discover the farm, we discussed how their dream CSA could look like, some useful methods were also introduced for facilitation and planning. Obviously, the “Ship activity” was their favourite. Everyone could choose a persona of a ship. Through this activity, the members and farmers could explain how they feel currently and draw up their aim. This also led to nice conversations: what can we do if someone feels like the cleaning staff but would like to be the chef of the ship?
At the end of the two days, after several discussions and group-based activities, the members undertook concrete responsibilities. Some of them formed a strategic planning group which assist the farmers, others are more active at deliveries. They were responsible for organizing the “Christmas delivery” and one of the members helps all Thursdays at harvesting.
Our main conclusion was that Food&More training works, but we need to be patient and determined. And the whole journey started only now for the community. We hope they will have a nice time together!
If you are interested in Food&More training materials, you can find these here: https://urgenci.net/resources (click on Food Citizens) and there: https://hub.urgenci.net/category/community-supported-agriculture/
This community building day and all the materials mentioned here were organized or created thanks to the support of the European Union through the Food and More project.