The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Network UK charter sets out the defining characteristics and values of the UK CSA movement.
Each CSA farm is on their own journey within this context. This charter is the binding document which enables CSA farms to form the CSA Network UK under a clear statement of our common ground whilst actively celebrating the strength gained from the diversity of UK CSA.
CSA in the UK – a model which works for people, planet and producer
CSA is fundamentally a way of connecting us to our food and to the risks and rewards of producing it. CSA farms in the UK are a polyculture of small food, flower, fibre or fuel producing businesses that share four important characteristics. Click on any of the four headings below to discover more.
1. They are agroecological and many grow to or above the organic standards set out by the UK organic certifying organisations.
We take the definition given by the Association of Agroecology Europe.
‘Agroecology is considered jointly as a science, a practice and a social movement. It encompasses the whole food system from the soil to the organization of human societies. It is value-laden and based on core principles. As a science, it gives priority to action
research, holistic and participatory approaches, and transdisciplinarity including different knowledge systems. As a practice, it is based on sustainable use of local renewable resources, local farmers’ knowledge and priorities, wise use of biodiversity to provide ecosystem services and resilience, and solutions that provide multiple benefits (environmental, economic, social) from local to global. As a movement, it defends smallholders and family farming, farmers and rural communities, food sovereignty, local and short marketing chains, diversity of indigenous seeds and breeds, healthy and quality food.’
2. There is intrinsic community investment and commitment in the model and a sharing of the risks, rewards and responsibilities of farming.
This is most often through commitment to buy produce for a whole season rather than on an adhoc basis but can also be through labour and or ownership of the business and/or land. Through this commitment members are tied in to both the seasonality and the risks and rewards. There is also a sense of belonging to and partnership in the enterprise which may also include shared ownership or investment. Commitment, belonging, mutual trust and openness are the key factors which differentiate CSA from straight exchanges of money for goods.
3. CSA farms are businesses whose main aim is to produce food, flowers, fibre or fuel.
This differentiates them from other land-based projects e.g. therapeutic, social, educational or otherwise charitable enterprises who also distribute produce. This does not mean CSAs cannot do other work and many CSAs do successfully support educational, therapeutic or other social activities alongside food production.
4. CSA is a hyper local direct distribution model and CSAs produce most of what they sell themselves
Although they may supplement by buying-in, they have an extremely short supply chain, supplying members within their locality.
CSA may be the entire farm enterprise or part of a larger whole.
The local nature of CSA, combined with the intrinsic community investment, means that CSAs generally don’t grow to beyond 150-200 members. CSA offers a model of growth by proliferation rather than increase in size.
These four characteristics put together are what make CSA the most resilient model of food production and distribution available.
This model is supported by three core values:
CSA farming should be managed in a responsible way which sustains and enhances the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible; supports the land, producers and communities to flourish and thrive; and protects their health and well-being now and into the future.
Ecology & Diversity
CSA farming should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them, help sustain them and work to ensure and increase diversity at every ecosystem level from soil biota to CSA membership.
Fairness, Solidarity & Reciprocity
CSA farming builds relationships of trust between members and producers which ensure fairness, see healthy food as a right and work towards equity and sovereignty in our food systems. It supports a fair and steady income for the producer and is based on a commitment to share in the risks and rewards of production.
Membership of the CSA Network UK
By becoming member of the CSA Network UK, CSA farms are agreeing to manage their businesses based on the common values identified in this charter and each member CSA reaffirms their commitment to farm according to the principles set out in the charter each year when they renew their membership.
This charter is written based on the feedback of many people involved in the UK CSA movement, including many types and geographically diverse CSA farms.
This is a living document – if you have questions or feedback about this charter contact the Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adopted by member vote October 2021