By Nudge Sustainability Reporter Adriana Olaya
In the outskirt of Osnabrück, Germany, a farm is rising with the organisation and the implementation of a sustainable economic model. The project is led by Julia and Tobias Hartkemeyer and encouraged by the participation of their family, friends and the rest of the local community: The CSA Hof Pente.
Tobias has been working on the idea for 6 years. His goal is to reshape social interactions in learning environments and to offer the chance of experiencing, perceiving and re-creating nature as an ecological system. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is an opportunity for a complete transformation of economic, social and communicative relations that encourage a holistic concept of agriculture and farming.
In a CSA the community is directly connected to the farm by labor, money or food. As apposed to a traditional farm, a CSA offers a connection between the community and a farm. A CSA serves as a meeting point, cultural and social development spot, a place to experience nature and it helps the community understand the impact and consequences of their daily food decisions.
The concept of CSA means that products are not conventionally sold on the market, but flow into a transparent economic cycle. The entire cycle is financed and organised by the participants and members of the CSA.
“The success of the project relays in the nature of interaction and community cohesion.”
The members pay a monthly membership fee and have the opportunity to come to the farm once a week to collect their share of the weekly harvest. The amount of the fee is left to the members' discretion. Member’s consideration is: „What am I eager to pay for the farm to operate?” Instead of “How much will I pay for the food I will receive?”.
By changing the concept of price by kilogram into a fictitious and abstract concept, price is not the main trigger for decision-making any longer. The focus becomes the effort for wholeness and the preservation of diversity, fostering the farm into a holistic view.
This concept of buying shares instead of Kg is implemented because individual prices for food lead individuals to have a wrong perception of quality, benefit, profit, fairness and goodness. Paying for the entire process, rather than the output, facilitates a much needed shift of perspectives:
Agriculture seen as a whole systemic system, in stead of individual parts.
All products that have been harvested or slaughtered that week are given in equal amounts depending on the size of each family. This way the customers can directly experience how their decision on food creates the cultural landscape and enables diversity of species.
Besides the benefit received by the food share, the members have the opportunity to contribute and get involved with practical work: taking care of the soil, plants and animals. The whole farm serves as environment of diversity and learning; connecting generations embedded in the local and social context.
Environmental learning is real, direct and practical.
Generative dialogues, community participation, education and rise of awareness of related topics make the farm the first step to a simple community based on trust. It enables a community that creates a more resilient and healthy agricultural system.