Community Supported Agriculture (AAC), also called the “ CSA model ” or, in English, community-supported agriculture, is an alternative economic system that connects consumers to farmers.
In this model, consumers, also called co-producers, are more aware of the processes of planting food and share the risks involved with farmers. Compared to the traditional model of agriculture, the CSA model values farmers better, improves food quality, reduces waste, expands socio-environmental awareness, among other benefits.
How It Works ?
In the CSA model, co-producers receive weekly information on the progress of crops and baskets weekly or monthly. For this, it is necessary to make a financial investment, which works like a subscription.
Ideally, farmers work based on the principles of organic or biodynamic agriculture; and provide food grown in seasonal baskets, that is, which vary according to the natural season of each crop.
Despite producing or harvesting practically everything we consume, the people who work at the beginning of the food production chain are the poorest and, oddly enough, represent a significant part of the hungry people. This is because those who most benefit from the sale of food are the intermediaries (usually markets), and not the producers, who keep a much lower share of the value that is obtained from the final consumer.
Principles And Theoretical Concepts Of Csa
One of the characteristics that come closest to theoretical studies on the subject and perhaps the main difference of CSA about other conventional forms of agriculture is the proposal of proximity and partnership between family farmers and consumers. The proposal works to eliminate intermediaries in the food chain and provide a more integrated view of society.
The relationship between consumer and farmer appears so important that, among the countless descriptions about CSA, they are used in research in English, about the consumer who is part, mostly, as “partner” or “Partnership” (BLOEMMEN et al ., 2015) that brings the sense of association, partnership, society. In Brazil, the most used word to designate the CSA consumer is “co-producer” or “associate”
According to Cone and Myhre (2000) and Bougherara et al. (2009), CSA is opposed to the current form of anonymous and distant production, by allowing a feeling of community and trust through the specific connection of the producer with a land space. The relationship of mutual aid and sharing of risks between producer and co-producer, in seasons that hinder the harvest, is an alternative form of the organization compared to the traditional economic model.
Another proposal inherent to this type of productive arrangement is the search for the transition from traditional industrial agriculture to agro ecological agriculture. In Buck and Hayden (2012) and Melo et al. (2018), it was evidenced how the CSA affected the environmental ethics of the case studied, in addition to the potential de-mercantilization of this practice.
Eckert’s (2016) Brazilian study on CSA, based on Karl Polanyi, related the concepts of plurality and coexistence, in addition to the concept of countermovement, as a form of resistance and the recovery of the relative autonomy of individuals. In this sense, it was observed that individuals are not liable to commercialization and its effects, as they articulate themselves to seek protection and gain autonomy and, therefore, in the CSA, other principles of economic regulation coexist, mainly the principle of reciprocity in which the act is privileged over the object and the private institution.
In Bloemmen, Belgium’s CSA was presented from a microeconomic degrowth perspective, which is a critique of the current dominant model and its paradigm of unlimited growth as an indicator of success. The authors started from theories that defend a new production model in which the rational goals of efficiency and maximization do not dominate social rationality, besides bringing to the discussion non-utilitarian and instrumental ways of organizing themselves.
Thus, the CSA proposal seems to bring about the questioning of principles naturalized by the mercantile economy, such as individualism, work for the exchange of wages based on meritocracy, the distancing of the relationship between producer and consumer. From these questions, there is the potential for new meanings to be constructed by the subjects, as well as for other questions to arise to extrapolate the work sphere.