First SolidBase Research Results Shared in Thessaloniki

By Peter Volz, European CSA Research Group and Agronauten

Photo Courtesy: Sara Meissner

The Thessaloniki International, European and Mediterranean CSA meeting in November 2018 featured a workshop on “Financial Sustainability of CSA and other types of solidarity-based food systems in Europe”. Peter Volz from the research organisation AGRONAUTEN and Jocelyn Parot from URGENCI presented the results of an Europe-wide survey they did in the context of the SolidBase project together with the partners TVE from Hungary, AMPI from Czech Republic and the German CSA Network SOLAWI.

About 40 participants listened to the status quo of research on this issue and the findings of a detailed online questionnaire in 9 languages that was filled by about 120 farmers and CSA coordinators. These online results were backed up by live qualitative interviews with about 40 farmers and a consumer survey with 390 participants.

The results show that financial sustainability of CSAs is still an issue for many but that CSA has also helped to stabilize farms. In order to avoid financial troubles it proved to be important to establish realistic cost predictions, establish transparent and good communication with the members and use a whole range of tools and approaches that exist already to ensure that the CSA runs without self-exploitation.

This includes e.g. open source software for management and bookkeeping . More than that the issue has also a socio-psychological dimension, with the farmer giving his work the right value. Also, the context is very different within Europe, e.g. in Eastern Europe. After the presentation there was a vivid discussion – a clear indicator that the release of the final report and tailor-made trainings for CSAs in 2019 will be eagerly anticipated in the European CSA community and hopefully also beyond.