Jocelyn Parot, general secretary of the Urgenci international community supported agriculture (CSA) network, came to visit with Oma Maa on Lassila farm in the beginning of this month. It was in January 2011 that Jocelyn presented in Helsinki about CSA workings in France, and that his visit gave impetus to the development of CSA workings in Finland. Jocelyn told that he believes the number of CSA initiatives in Europe keeps rising, and that Urgenci wants to carry out a next census in 2020 to get up to date on the numbers.
This development is certainly not without its challenges. Whilst the CSA mode of organising can certainly help a farmer to achieve sustainability, different particularities might make sustainability nevertheless a challenge for many CSA’s. Whilst today there is more demand for organic products, a CSA is about the engaging in a deeper process of change, and this can be felt as challenging for people to join on to.
The Urgenci network is at the moment putting a focus on biodiversity, and via interviews with its members wants to address the question whether a CSA in fact is a system which supports and promotes biodiversity. Since a CSA does not operate according to market demands, but allows for decision making regarding planting between a farmer and other cooperative members, in principle more diversity of growing can take place.
Our farmer Jukka Lassila agreed that indeed as a CSA, Oma Maa can have the possibility to be experimenting, meaning diversify its planting more than what otherwise would be the case. But then the question arises, do we always understand what biodiversity upkeep entails and includes? Why are there for instance cows on a farm, when the farm is not into dairy or meat production? On Lassila farm there are four cows, which in the summer season graze in front of Tuusula lake. In this area there is no food production, because the area floods. In the past, the area has been serving as grazing lands, and there was a lot of diversity. But when no more cows were held in the area, the diversity of the area clearly diminished. Now, after the re-introduction of grazing cows in the area, there is a clear comeback of diversity. The issue of animals on a farm is at large an important question. Jukka explained that it is not an issue in any way of maximizing the amount of animals on a farm. The issue is one of determining what is the maximum amount of cows or chickens that can be held with them eating what is not eaten by people. This is how to look at land and biodiversity.
Jocelyn also shared with us on the next larger upcoming meetings around food. The next larger international Urgenci CSA meetings will be taking place some time in May, 2021, in Spain. Before that, food networks will be present in Barcelona in June 2020, at the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies. Jocelyn also told of a CSA Hackathon in Freiberg, Germany, in November, where the development of software will be tackled, which will be helpful for (larger) CSA’s organization and governance. Even if not without challenges, the CSA movement is moving.
Ruby van der Wekken