Examples of Community Supported Agriculture projects in the UK
The Soil Association’s website provides information on its CSA pages to help new initiatives get started.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and the local community that helps local farms by encouraging the community to give them financial support. There are many different kinds of CSA each unique to the community.
It is a partnership in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared. Benefits are enjoyed by all sides: farmers for instance can receive a more stable and secure income and closer connection with their community, and consumers can benefit by eating fresh healthy food and feeling more connected to the land where their food is grown and learning new skills.
CSAs work with all kinds of produce: vegetables, eggs, poultry, bread, fruit, pork, lamb, beef and dairy produce. CSAs are also developing around woodlands for firewood and also more recently fish.
Stroud Community Agriculture
Stroud Community Agriculture is one such CSA. After six years, this Soil Association- supported initiative is renting 50 acres (or 20.2345 hectares) of land and employs two full-time farmers/growers. It provides vegetables and meat to 189 households and is now making enough profit to pay a bonus to its farmers/growers.
Growing Communities is a community-led organisation based in Hackney (London). Its motto is ‘taking back our food system’. Over the more than ten years that this project has existed, it has set up:
- a fruit and vegetables box scheme,
- a farmers’ market, urban market gardens,
- training for apprentice growers and volunteers, and
- a ‘patchwork farm’ composed of micro-sites in and around Hackney.
The most successful components of the scheme to date have been the food boxes, farmers’ markets, and urban market gardens. — The farmers’ market is manned by local growers and gives them an outlet for their produce, provided that they adhere to Growing Communities’ strict rules. The box scheme now supplies fruit and vegetables to more than 520 households in Hackney. See: www.growingcommunities.org
The Eat Somerset project was based on the principle that improving local outlets for Somerset’s produce would contribute to sustainable development in a number of ways — by reducing food miles — by increasing local producers’ incomes; — by improving sales and marketing opportunities for retailers and — by improving consumers’ access to fresher, high quality food.
Eat Somerset supported retailers by putting together a local food directory to enable them to source local products easily. To boost the production of fruit and vegetables for public sector food catering services in the south-west of England (e.g., for schools, nursing homes, and hospitals), markets were set up (‘Meet the Buyers’ markets) to foster contacts between buyers and suppliers.
North Aston Dairy’s grass-fed herd (micro-dairies)
North Aston Dairy produces organic milk from fifteen traditional Ayrshire cows on about 40 acres of clover-rich pasture. The farm assures one full-time job and by paring down costs to a minimum – mainly through the use of second-hand equipment – and selling direct to customers, the farmer manages to make a reasonable living.
Most of the milk is simply pasteurised, put in one-litre glass bottles, and sold directly to local customers. Some of the customers have purchased shares in the farm (or an individual cow), which entitles them to a certain amount of milk. The milk is delivered twice a week to homes located for the most part a couple of miles (3-5 km) from the farm.
Dairy farmers are finding that they can make a living from just a few cows, provided that they sell locally and directly to consumers. See: www.sustainweb.org/eatsomerset or www.grassrootsfood.co.uk/realmilk