URGENCI @Oxford Real Farming Conference

The Oxford Real Farming Conference is kicking off today! URGENCI is excited to be part of this year’s global online event. Below you’ll find an overview of the five sessions hosted by Urgenci. We hope to see you there!

Community Supported Agriculture for Food Justice

8 January 2021, 16.00-17.00 GMT+1 (CET) / 15.00-16.00 GMT (UK) / 10.00-11.00 ET / 11.00-12.00 (Manaus)

CSA groups have sometimes been labelled as middle class. And although sociological studies show that it is true that many CSA members have a background of higher education degrees, the essence of CSA is to support local organic / agroecological farmers, be inclusive and build social cohesion, rather than emulate food banks. CSA farms using agroecological practices are conscious of their key role in providing healthy, nutritious food for all while preserving soil health and agrobiodiversity. There are a wide range of solidarity mechanisms that are implemented by CSA farms and groups around the world. The Covid-19 crisis contributed to casting a light on some of them: solidarity funds to offer shares to marginalized people, sliding schemes allowing members to pay a price that is proportional to the income, bidding rounds based on voluntary financial contributions, working shares… How efficient are all these techniques in making CSA more inclusive? How can farmers and consumers participate in the social inclusion efforts? In extremely different contexts, CSAs have developed ad hoc strategies to bridge the gap between different segments of our societies. This workshop will tell stories from the ground from 3 different continents. 

Facilitator: Judith Hitchman.

Judith Hitchman is Irish and has 45 years international experience within international networks of sustainable local development as well as global processes. In recent years she has focused on working as a food sovereignty activist, and is currently co-president of Urgenci, the global Community Supported Agriculture network.

Speakers: Qiana Mickie (Just Food New York City), Ariel Molina (CSA Brasil), Veikko Heintz (Solawi, German CSA Network)

Qiana Mickie is a New York City based food systems leader and speaker that uses food as a driver of enterprise, innovation, and equity. Qiana recently transitioned from the Executive Director role to become the Special Projects Consultant at Just Food in Spring 2020. She serves as a board member in several national and international coalitions.

Ariel Molina is currently a botanist, PhD student researching ethnobotany, edible tropical fruits, Indigenous Peoples’ food security and sovereignty in the Amazon rainforest. He has been engaged in the CSA movement in Brazil since 2013, and is a founder-member of the CSA Brasil network and of the 1st CSA in Amazonia.

Veikko Heintz is a board member of the German CSA network. Veikko worked over 8 years as a farmer on different community farms and is now an advisor for agriculture in the German parliament. He is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Civil Society Mechanism of the UN Comittee for Food Security.

Community Supported Fisheries : small-scale fisheries and peasant agriculture, same struggles, similar solutions

9 January 2021, 15.00-16.00 GMT+1 (CET) / 14.00-15.00 GMT (UK) / 9.00-10.00 (ET)

Our oceans are suffering from the ravages of industrial fisheries and gigantic factory ships hovering up fish stocks in record times. A single haul can be as much as 200 tonnes of fish. Not only is this devastating for fish stocks, it also deeply affects small scale coastal fisheries who are in danger of going out of business: no or little fish, low prices and no access to markets. And just as Community Supported Agriculture has been working for over 50 years in building territorial markets between small-scale farmers and consumers, Community Supported Fisheries have been addressing similar issues, mainly in the USA, but now increasingly in Europe. This workshop will illustrate the problems faced by small-scale fisheries and the various solutions provided by direct sales of fish in various forms. It will also explore how CSF and CSA can work together as well as other forms of short supply chains like the Open Food Network, in ensuring that consumers can support small-scale fisheries and access healthy fresh fish.

Facilitator: Joshua Stoll is an Assistant Professor of Marine Policy in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine in the United States. Joshua has been engaged in values-based seafood marketing for over a decade and is the co-founder of the Local Catch Network.

Speakers: Brett Tolley (NAMA), Irmak Ertör (Bogazici University), Thibault Josse (Pleine Mer)

Brett Tolley is the National Program Coordinator for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), a fisher-led organization based in the United States that is building a movement toward healthier fisheries and fishing communities. Brett comes from a four-generation commercial fishing family and serves on the International Committee for Urgenci.

Irmak Ertör is a political ecologist currently affiliated to Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. She works on environmental justice, agroecology and food sovereignty in small-scale fisher communities, as well as Community Supported Fisheries. As an activist researcher she supports Istanbul Birlik, the umbrella association of 34 fishing cooperatives in Istanbul region.

Thibault Josse is working at Association Pleine Mer, a collective of fisher people and fish eaters working together for local, equitable and sustainable fisheries, through the development of Community Supported Fisheries. Fisheries engineer, he works with coastal communities in France and in the Global South for more social and environmental justice.

This session is organized by the consortium of the project called “Deck to Dish”  and supported under the Erasmus+ programme. The project consortium includes URGENCI, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture, TNI, the international research and advocacy institute, the Istanbul-based fishers cooperative Birlik, Local Catch, the USA Community Supported Fisheries network and the French small-scale fishers’ platform Pleine Mer.


CSA and Covid-19: A resilient model?

10 January 2021, 17.00-18.00 GMT+1 (CET) / 16.00-17.00 GMT (UK)

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has had a critical role to play in feeding local communities during the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses and gaps in our global food production and distribution systems. In contrast, smaller more local farms and direct sales models are being celebrated as more resilient and veg box customer numbers have soared during the crisis. Join this session to hear from CSA farmers and the global CSA movement Urgenci, about the different responses and approaches taken by CSAs throughout the pandemic.  What has actually been happening on the ground? Has there been a boom in the CSA movement? There is growing recognition that family-scale farms using agroecological practices are an essential part of a system capable of providing healthy, nutritious food for all. It seems customers are hearing this message.

Facilitator: Suzy Russell (UK CSA Network)

Suzy Russell is the Network Coordinator of the UK CSA Network. Suzy has a passion for environment, food, culture and people and has developed and led ambitious work in this field for over 20 years.  Past endeavours have included community environmental projects in Spain, street theatre, third sector leadership and mindfulness teaching.

Speakers: Tom O’Kane (Cae Tan CSA), Florent Sebban (Ferme Sapousse, Amap-Idf), Judith Hitchman (URGENCI)

Judith Hitchman is the President of URGENCI (urgenci.net), the international network of CSA, and will share the results of a worldwide survey on CSA in times of Covid-19.

Tom O Kane, from Grower, Wales, will share his experience as a CSA farmer in the UK. His CSA is now in its 6th season. Cae Tan feeds 125 local households and works with local schools, colleges, universities, volunteers and trainees. As the waiting list at Cae Tan grew, Tom has supported the set-up of Gower’s second CSA and is now working towards a third.

Florent Sebban is a young Amap vegetable grower from the region of Paris and a board member of the local Amap network, will highlight some of the solidarity actions led by CSA farmers and their network during the Covid-19 crisis.

Keynote: China, COVID-19 and the growth of the CSA Network: How the Pandemic Has Changed Short Supply Chain Agriculture in China

11 January 2021, 13.00 GMT+1 (CET) / 12.00 GMT (UK)

Speaker: Shi Yan (URGENCI)

This year more than any has shown how resilient agroecological farms are. Many farms in China’s CSA network have performed very well during the pandemic, both economically as well as being responsive to the needs of the consumer who realised the essential necessity to eat good, healthy food to boost their immunity in the face of the “pandemic enemy”. The effect of this is that producer-consumer relationships have grown and changed in that the bond is now much closer. 

Being able to eat organic, healthy food that has gone from “farm to table” in 24 hours has engendered a deep mutual gratitude in CSA members. The pandemic generated a fighting spirit on the side of both producers and consumers. This brought out the essence of community supported agriculture which is that the relationship between farmers and consumers is stable, mutually supportive, and collaborative.

Join Shi Yan, co-president of Urgenci, organic pioneer and the founder of the first CSA in China. She now runs Shared Harvests, a CSA which now provides food for over a thousand families in Beijing.

The Financialisation of Land Sales

12 January 2021, 14.00 GMT+1 / 13.00 GMT

We are witnessing the increasing financialisation of land and territories as land and natural resources are sold off to financial actors such as banks, pension funds, and insurance companies. These actors often make use of complex investment webs involving any number of intermediaries, brokers, tax avoidance loopholes and off-shore schemes. All of these are attempts to distance themselves from public scrutiny, regulation, taxation and accountability. This is hugely disempowering for communities as it means that decisions are taken about land that are distant, undemocratic and hidden. And agricultural land is by no means protected. And whether the new owners have purely financial motivations or have some interest in what the land offers (biomass, commodity sales), the outcome is the same: investors acquiring shares prioritise profitability, relegating agricultural production together with its social functions and its environmental objectives to a secondary place.
This session seeks to address the following questions:

  • To what extent is financialisation happening in Europe? 

  • What are the consequences in terms of transparency of land ownership, the flouting of regulations, the impact on farmers’ independence, and impact on farm succession? 

  • How may we combat the financialisation of land sales? 

Facilitator: Nathalie Markiefka (URGENCI)

Nathalie Markiefka is the Training Coordinator at Urgenci, International CSA Network. With her background in Economics, Climate Change and Agriculture she has been part of building a sustainable food movement in Ireland and active in advocacy work at European Level. Her passion lies in empowering communities to take action for Food Sovereignty.

Speakers: Robert Levesque (AGTER), Sofia Monsalve (FIAN), Mykhailo Amosov (Ecoaction)

Robert Levesque president of AGTER, is a French agronomist specialising in land issues. He has been an expert for the Economic and Social Council and has published many articles and books, including “Earth and Humanity: The Ecolocene Way” (2016), “Mother Earth, if we miss it. Stop the plundering of common goods” (2011).

Sofía Monsalve Suárez is the Secretary General of FIAN International, an international human rights organization working for the right to food and nutrition. Before turning Secretary General in 2016, she coordinated FIAN’s program on land and natural resources for more than 15 years. This work included field research visits and fact-finding missions to twenty five countries.

Mykhailo Amosov is an Environmental Specialist with the Ukrainian organisation Ecoaction. Mykhailo coordinated the work of EcoAction in the Land Matrix Initiative, to track the concentration of large areas of agricultural land under the control of commercial companies. Mykhailo has also been involved in the analysis of land reforms in Ukraine.

This session is organized by the consortium of the project called “Collaborative Learning About Innovative Land Strategies” (LandStrat) and supported under the Erasmus+ programme. The consortium includes Terre de Liens, European Coordination Via Campesina, Oxford Real Farming Trust, Transnational Institute, EcoRuralis, Nyeleni Europe, IFOAM-Europe and URGENCI.

Book your tickets to the ORFC here.