Solawi Spring Meeting

By Kirsten Grover, Netzwerk Solidarische Landwirtschaft

“Reaching the region” was the title and theme of the Solawi movement meeting that took place at the beginning of February. Around 120 people traveled to Freiburg from the whole of Germany to exchange ideas on how solidarity-based agriculture (Solawi) can grow beyond the niche position.

The movement wants to make a contribution to the transformation of the agricultural system and social change. There are many questions linked to this: can CSA farms significantly support the supply of entire cities and regions? How can Solawi processes and Solawi culture be translated into larger or more complex contexts? What are the limits and what conditions are necessary?

Three keynote speeches highlighted different experiences, showing how Solawi could become even more relevant for regional supply and the transformation of agriculture – and what challenges will need to be faced.

 As always, a variety of topics were movdiscussedin the Workshops and Open Spaces. The Closing workshop of the Erasmus+ Solid Base Project, issues on Education and Learning in Solawi, the Introduction of the Nascent Project introduced by the universities of Siegen and Oldenburg, Sociocracy, agroforestry, IT infrastructures, experiences of how to strucure Solawi co-operation projects, the feminist perspective on working conditions in agricultre and other issues where worked on in a dense and lively atmosphere.

Solawi is diverse: it is composed of there are companies of various sizes and legal forms with different organizational structures. Family-run family businesses meet consumer cooperatives, animal husbandry or vegan vegetable growing, large structures or small farms, traditional businesses or spontaneous projects. A fishbowl exercise brought all of this diversity together and achieved a discussion that highlighted the common ground. This made it clear that we are moving forward together, step by step, also with different strategies and questioning our actions.

The hurricane Sabine announced of the day of departure symbolically showed that we can face challenges with such a large group. Decisions were made that showed both flexibility and transparency, and the meeting was rounded off three hours before the planned end, so that everyone could drive home safely without stress. This is the basis for growing trust – and this is what is needed in this time of transformation.