The CSA Network UK is the only organisation working solely to promote community supported agriculture (CSA) across the UK and to support CSA farms. Community supported agriculture is a partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared. Thanks to funding from the A Team Foundation and money raised via a crowdfunding campaign, and with the support of the Soil Association, the CSA Network UK was launched in December 2013.
Since April 2015 we have been completely independent with our own project co-ordinator and we also secured core funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Over the last two years we have greatly expanded our activities and impact and have seen the CSA movement continue to grow.
We have increased our membership to 45 CSA farms from 26 when we first set up. There have also been a number of new CSAs setting up over the last two years. This includes: Steepholding in Devon, Wild Roots Veg in Sussex, Waterland Organics in Cambridgeshire, Plotgate CSA in Somerset, Forest & Folk Community Supported Herbalism in Milton Keynes, Chadlington Kitchen Garden in Oxfordshire, Frith Farm in Yorkshire, Southern Roots Organics in Dorset, Transition Turriefield, Tap O Noth Permaculture and Tomnah'a Market Garden in Scotland, and Gerlan Bach, Torth y Tir, and Old Lands CSA in Wales.
We have set up a mentoring programme for new and existing CSAs, which we are able to provide at a subsidised rate thanks to funding from the Awards for All programme. We have already had great feedback from participants for example Plotgate CSA said the mentoring was incredibly useful and they would thoroughly recommend the service to other CSAs.
We organised a national CSA Network UK Open Day on 1 October 2016 when CSA farms around the country organised public events to help raise awareness of what community supported agriculture is all about. Around 35 farms took part and organised fun activities, such as squash harvesting, raspberry picking, apple pressing, pig feeding, bring a dish meals, farm tours and lots more. We will be running the event again this year and have already received a grant from Celebrate Wales to enable us to give a bursary to CSA farms in Wales that are taking part.
We held CSA networking and training events all over the country including events at Whitmuir Community Farm near Edinburgh, Canalside Community Food near Leamington Spa, Fork & Dig It in Brighton, Sims Hill in Bristol, and Five Acre Farm in Coventry.
We have also just organised a national CSA Sign Up Day on 1 March 2017. This is based on the successful CSA Day run by Small Farm Central in the US. This was a day to promote CSA farms across the country and get new members to sign up at the start of the season when farms need support most. We have not evaluated the day yet but we had lots of great publicity and Camel CSA said they recruited at least 10 new members on top of their existing 40 members.
Overall we are very pleased with our progress, although in order to be sustainable in the long term the network still relies on our income from individual supporters, as well as our farm members. So if you would like to help support the growth of CSAs in the UK and promote a fairer, more transparent model of food production please join us: