Sustainable Community Values Project, Phase 2: Community Supported Agriculture and Quality of Life
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a fast growing movement of farmers and consumers reestablishing partnerships in local communities. By emphasizing land stewardship and community revitalization, CSA offers producers and consumers the potential to exercise a new degree of control over the terms of food production, distribution, and marketing. This study seeks to document the potential for such a strategy to significantly improve the quality of life for both urban and rural people and communities in the Upper Midwest.
The objectives of the Sustainable Community Values Project - Phase II are to:
1) Document the skills, knowledge, and support needed by CSA farmers and explore options for how they can be developed;
2) Develop strategies for strengthening shareholder involvement in CSA farms;
3) Explore the relationships evolving among farmers, shareholders, and the land;
4) Describe and evaluate the growth of regional approaches to coalition building and collaboration among CSA farms;
5) Examine the relationship between CSA farms and their local communities. Determine how CSA farms can have a positive impact in such areas as economic development, farmland conservation, and environmental quality; and
6) Strengthen the capacity for farmers, members, and supportive organizations to identify and solve problems related to CSA. Develop a participatory research team, made up of farmers, shareholders and academic researchers, to develop and disseminate practical knowledge on an on-going basis.
This study is farmer-initiated and brings together farmers, scientist and educators to build upon the first two years of the Sustainable Community Values Project. Phase II will apply the research prototype already developed to a total of 15 farms, fine-tuning earlier research questions, and documenting the changes needed to improve the quality of life for all participants. Utilizing a participatory case study approach, both quantitative and qualitative methods will be used in two clusters of farms around Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and Madison, Wis. The information collected will be disseminated to farmers, educators, and consumers in the form of conferences, field days, study circles and educational materials. Philadelphia Community Farm will provide project coordination and host a field day; Larry Swain, Rural Development Institute, UW-River Falls will conduct the economic analysis and help disseminate results through the Cooperative Extension Service; Steve Stevenson, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, US-Madison will be the principal investigator for the Twin Cities area; the Minnesota Food Association, the Land Stewardship Project and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute will assist with the facilitation of the study circles.
North Central Region SARE 1997 Annual Report.