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Community Supported Agriculture - local food

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Saw this article in the Exeter Flying Post issue 306 Aug-Oct 2008

Nicola Beglin reports on a project in Exeter to forge a new alliance between farmers and the local community.

An exciting new food initiative is setting up on the outskirts of Exeter. Following in the footsteps of many similar projects around the country, this initiative bases itself on the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - a term first used in the USA to describe a partnership between farmers and the community.

Why the need for such an initiative? Food production in the UK and beyond has become increasingly intensified with centralised distribution and sales – mainly through supermarkets. Small farmers and growers are struggling to survive. At the same time we have lost connection with both the land and how our food is produced. Although we can buy almost any food we want at any time – at least in Europe – we no longer recognise the seasons.

Fresh, nutritious, affordable locally grown food for local people is at the heart of this project. So much of our food is transported thousands of unnecessary miles around Britain, whilst at the same time we face the challenges of increasing carbon dioxide emissions and oil depletion. Figures vary on the contribution made by food production to CO2 in the atmosphere – but it is significant.

The project aims to create real partnership between producers and consumers – where the responsibility and rewards of farming are shared. It is an opportunity to create a pioneering economic model that will supply local food to our tables. It will also give people the chance to re-connect with the land, enjoy the health benefits of fresh local food and provide security for the farmer.

It will enable people with no farming experience to have access to the land, and, in the longer term, training possibilities. At present our agricultural system does not encourage young people to get involved in farming and with the average age of UK farmers being 58 this is one aspect of farming that needs to change if we are to rise to the challenge of producing more of our own food.

A small group of people concerned about these issues came together in January and has been working with two local farmers on ways to turn this vision into a reality. The group has been offered 4 acres of high grade, uncultivated, organic land to rent on the outskirts of Exeter – equivalent space of 100 standard allotments.

We will be involving the community in its evolution, growing a range of produce according to the needs and interests of the members. Members of the project will be able to contribute to its development in whatever way they choose. Some people may wish to subscribe a receive produce; other may wish to help formulate the direction of the project and/or work on the land. by joining this project you'll be able to know where your food comes from; support the local economy and help build a future based on sustainable agriculture.

A launch meeting will be held on Tuesday 16 September 2008 at Alphington Primary School in Exeter, so come along to find out more. In the meantime for further information please email: nbeglin@ukonline.co.uk
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