Community supported agriculture must shout much louder to make local food work

September 20, 2011

Thousands of people in England are improving their overall quality of life by getting involved in community supported agriculture.

But a lack of public awareness means that many more are missing out, according to new research from the Soil Association

“Community supported agriculture is an exciting, dynamic, growing movement. It’s all about sharing and giving people proper access to local produce. It’s making a real difference to people’s lives,” Josiah Meldrum of Provenance told the Soil Association’s CSA conference in Bristol.

Indeed, the pace of expansion is impressive. Of the 76 fully-fledged CSA schemes in England, 66 of these got going in the last three years.  Another 120 are in the process of setting up. 

Public understanding  is lacking, however. Two thirds of 1,000 shoppers who took part in a survey had never heard of community supported agriculture schemes like ours in Cornwall. 

The Soil Association commissioned Provenance researchers Nick Saltmarsh and Josiah Meldrum to judge the impact of CSAs in England. They concluded there are enormous social, environmental and economic benefits for members and the wider community.

More than 70 per cent of of CSA members feel their overall quality of life has improved. Almost half believe they’re having a significant impact on the community by bringing people together.

At least three quarters are involved because they want access to healthy, high-quality, sustainably-produced food. Two thirds of them find that the vegetables provided supply nearly all their needs.

Remarks included: 

Food has become interesting again…

I feel involved in the production of the food I eat and have become more connected to the land…

I feel part of something that is truly pioneering, that I am contributing in some way to different more sustainable way of living…

It makes me feel happy – at quite a deep level – that I’m playing a small part in helping such an excellent scheme to thrive…

You can have a more detailed look at the main findings on the Soil Association’s resources pages: –

The full report will be published in October.

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