Agriculture – not the individual food – is financed.
Solidarity-based agriculture (SoLaWi) is essentially an economic community between private households and one or more farms with the aim of preserving the habitat for plants, animals and humans in the long term. This is also known as “Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)” outside of the German-speaking world!
The model is based on solidarity, through a partnership between members and the farmers, gardeners and farm workers. Members share the costs and risks of food production by making a commitment to pay a certain amount to the farm each year. This gives the farm a predictable income, removing the need to invest time in marketing, and reducing dependence on market structures, wholesale prices and subsidies.
The members’ contribution covers operating costs (e.g. seeds and young plants, water and elictricity, machinery) and fair wages to the farmers, gardeners and farm workers. In return, members receive their share of the harvest: fresh and healthy, regional and seasonal food.
In contrast to vegetable subscription boxes offered by Organic retailers, we limit ourselves to what actually grows on our farmland, sometimes supplementing the weekly share with vegetables grown by local, neighbouring farmers.
Members also take on practical tasks, such as organising the weekly distribution of vegetable shares at the depot, or supporting the farm team on the field on harvest days or at organised weekend events (e.g. potato, onion or red beet harvests, or construction of a polytunnel). Needless to say, children can join in too!
The members also show solidarity with one another through the financing of the project. The membership fees are determined in an annual contribution or bidding round. Each member pays as much as they can – what they feel is fair and reasonable – for a share of the harvest, which allows people with lower incomes to join.
We cannot change the market structures so easily – but we can decide how we spend our money and who we support with it!
There are currently over 300 SoLaWis in Germany – and the trend is rising!