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Food for thought

Food for thought

Leander Jones looks at the role of community supported agriculture as a 21st-century antidote to the destructive and increasingly fragile corporate agricultural model

Members of the Basta community supported agriculture collective working the farm. Image courtesy of Hof Basta.

In the past few decades fundamental flaws in the global food system have been increasingly thrust into the public eye. The rise of industrial agriculture – combining increased use of fertilisers and pesticides with aesthetics-focused crop modification and long-distance transportation – has led to devastation of the environment and turbocharged an extractive model that thrives on exploitation of the world’s producers. The relentless quest to maximise production – and profits – per acre is destroying the very land on which this production depends. It is akin to setting your house on fire to save on energy bills.

The fragility of food systems is being exposed by the Covid-19 crisis as global production and transportation have been rocked. The UN Food and Agriculture programme has warned of ‘biblical’ famine threatening hundreds of millions of people.

Making space

Alternative models of non-industrial food production have historical roots stretching back decades and are numerous in their iterations. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is one example. As a practice it seeks to connect consumers directly with producers, with the aim of fostering community, creating fair exchange and sharing risks. The idea’s growth and popularity correlates with the rise of environmentalism.

Basta (‘Enough’ in Italian) is a CSA collective that has been running since 2013 near Berlin. The founders, Anna and Olli, bought a plot of land with the help of the Kulturland Genossenschaft (Cultivated Land Cooperative), in which small producers pool their resources to buy land and take it off the market. Individual farmers pay a yearly tariff back to Kulturland, while the land is owned in common.

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