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Community Supported Agriculture: A promising pathway for small family farms in Eastern Europe? A case study from Romania

In: Landbauforschung (Bd. 64, Nr. 3-4: 139-150)

Judith Moellers, Brînduşa Bîrhală, 2014

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Summary :

In the search for viable rural innovations that serve both the health concerns of consumers and the economic needs of small-scale farms in Eastern Europe, this study deals with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In Romania, sub- sistence based small-scale farming is a persistent phenome- non that goes hand-in-hand with unfavourable income opportunities. Small farms face extreme di culties in reaching formal market channels and therefore rely on sub- sistence and informal sales. From the consumers’ point of view, this lack of market orientation leads to the need to rely on imports of food products. A market segment that is parti- cularly underdeveloped is the market for organic products. In view of this, we are interested in factors that are important for the formation of a direct, trust-based market relationship in the form of CSA, and whether it leads to a win-win situati- on for farmers and consumers. The study is embedded theo- retically in the concept of the solidarity economy. The analy- sis is based on three cases of farmers pioneering CSA in Romania by o ering organic vegetables under contract to their local consumers in the Western part of the country. Our results reveal certain elements that support involvement in CSA. Consumers follow more value-based considerations; for example, they are convinced of the importance of a healthy diet and of the damaging e ects of synthetic agricultural inputs. For farmers, the CSA partnership is attractive so long as it o ers a price premium and market access. Both farmers and consumers compensate for market failures when partici- pating in CSA partnerships.