According to Urgenci’s estimations, based on the figures collected in 16 different European countries, there were at least 4,000 CSA groups in 2014, involving nearly 465,000 consumers and 6,300 farms. Urgenci and its partners promote CSA as a cross-border and context-sensitive concept rather than a unique model. Our network thus gives voice to experiences from different backgrounds in Europe, from the self-subsistence family-farming model in Romania to the well-established organic certified farms in England.
Many experience-sharing projects have been carried out since 2011 through several EU funded lifelong learning programmes, creating trust and mutual exchange within the European CSA community. The current priority is to strengthen the European movement and to establish what is common to all the CSA initiatives in Europe, after having explored its diversity.
There are already shared values, but a clear text setting the Common Vision is still lacking. We believe that this “Common Ground for CSA in Europe” project represents a major opportunity to launch a maturation process, providing means to 15 local and national CSA networks to facilitate “Charter writing workshops”. Some European events already planned in our agenda (Expo dei Popoli in Milan, Forum Solidarische Ökonomie in Berlin, see the “agenda” section) could also serve as milestones to share our progress with the European CSA activists.
This multilevel and multi-stakeholder process will reinforce both the European CSA platform as well as the local and national networks, fostering critical discussions on what we stand for and how to share it widely. And also, having a baseline we all agree on is the best way to take position in the name of our movement. If we don’t, somebody else will do it! Ever since 2011, when the “inaugural” European Forum for Food Sovereignty was held in Krems (Austria), CSA actors have agreed that one of their priorities was to write a “Declaration of the common values and principles of the European solidarity-based production and distribution systems”. Here is the opportunity!
After two successful European Meetings of CSA Movements and Alternative Distribution Systems in 2012 and 2014, our aim with this “Common Ground for CSA” project would be to structure a Shared Vision-building process in 2015 in preparation for the third European CSA meeting, already planned during the Autumn 2016 in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic (SAVE THE DATE!).
> Overall objectives of the “Common Ground” project:
- Launch and support the European CSA Charter writing process according to a demanding co-constructive methodology. Drafting a European CSA Charter will help shaping the European CSA network, building on shared values. The idea is to have three moments:
- A first European meeting just after the Expo dei Popoli session in June in Milan (June 6-7): getting the experience from “Charter-writers” (mainly France, the UK, delegates to the Expo, maybe others), learning about knowledge sharing methods and tools, setting a common framework.
- Each country then organizes a Charter workshop, preparing and convening CSA actors to a day (or several!) of brainstorming on what they stand for. Ideally, they could invite also actors from others countries, to get their experience and viewpoint.
- A second European meeting in September in Berlin during the RIPESS-EU Solidarity Economy forum (Sept 10-13): feedback and pooling from local workshops and European charter draft.
2. Implement a participatory action-research process to gain deeper insight into the social and economic impacts of CSA on European society.
Being a new movement that is characterized by a great diversity of organizational and legal forms, a systematic overview of the CSA movement in Europe is needed. Citizens, policy makers and activists alike can benefit from insights in this powerful emerging movement. The seeds for the « CSA research group » were sown at the First European CSA Meeting in Milan in 2012. The idea was to create a platform for participatory research on CSA from within the community. The group met again at the Second European CSA Meeting in Paris in early 2014 and more members joined the group. This project would definitely bring the “CSA Research group” new means to carry on with its work as mandated.
- Map and empower initiatives: collect existing tools and train partners to use them;
- Promote participatory research that involves consultations with all people in the food system and include the design, evaluation and dissemination of research.