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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003
COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE - HIE TO INVESTIGATE
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned a study team to look into expanding Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the region and is inviting food consumers and food producers to get involved.
CSA is a partnership between small farmers or crofters - both livestock and crop producers - and local consumers who want to eat fresh food. By joining a CSA, local families can sign-up to be consumer 'members' of a farm or croft in their area and agree to pay for a year's 'share' of the food produced on the land.
The farmer or crofter agrees to grow or rear a range of food that the members want and agrees a budget with them for the year. The meat, vegetables and so on are then produced and distributed among the members, who each get a share of what the farm or croft produces.
At a time when many small producers are being squeezed out by low prices and high costs, this community approach to farming and crofting is growing in popularity because it enables some small farms and crofts to survive, change what they produce and increase their income.
Commenting on CSAs, Shona Allison - a development manager within HIE's Key Industries team - said: "We want to know if CSAs could be feasible in the Highlands and Islands, providing healthy, locally produced food to residents and providing a guaranteed income for small crofts and farms."
The study is being carried out locally by a team led by Mr Jo Hunt from Cromarty. He said: "CSAs are working for thousands of small farms across Europe and we want to see if it can work in the Highlands and Islands. The key to establishing CSA crofts, farms, community gardens and woodlands in the region is about finding farmers, crofters, community groups and consumers interested in working together.
"The study team will be visiting five very different areas in the coming weeks to speak to people and organisations with an interest in local farming and healthy food to assess the level of interest in developing the CSA approach. We would urge anyone with an interest in local food to attend one of the public meetings, both food producers and consumers are very welcome."
Details of visits by the study team and public meetings