‘Workable utopias’ for social change through inclusion and empowerment? Community supported agriculture (CSA) in Wales as social innovation

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Springer Nature
The focus of this article is community supported agriculture (CSA) as an alternative food movement and a bottom-up response to the problems of the dominant food systems. By utilizing social innovation approach that explores the relationship between causes for human needs and emergence of socially innovative food initiatives, the article examines how the CSA projects emerge and why, what is their innovative role as part of the social economy and what is their transformative potential. Based on qualitative data from four different models of CSA case studies in different regions of Wales, UK, and by using concepts from an alternative model for social innovation (ALMOLIN) as analytical tool, the article demonstrates that the Welsh CSA cases play distinctive roles as part of the social economy. They satisfy the needs for ecologically sound and ethically produced food, grown within communities of like-minded people and they empower individuals and communities at micro level, while at the same time experiment with how to be economically sustainable and resilient on a small scale. The paper argues that in order to become ‘workable utopias’, the CSA initiatives need to overcome the barriers that prevent them from replicating, participating in policies and decision-making at macro level, and scaling up.
© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agriculture and Human Values, 2021, available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10141-6 . Keywords: community supported agriculture; CSA; social innovation; alternative food; grassroots initiatives; food sustainability.
Mert-Cakal, T., Miele, M. ‘Workable utopias’ for social change through inclusion and empowerment? Community supported agriculture (CSA) in Wales as social innovation. Agric Hum Values 37, 1241–1260 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-020-10141-6