By Klarien Klingen, Dutch CSA Farmer
CSA is growing big in the Netherlands! Five years ago there were only five initiatives, now there are over 90. In Flanders part of Belgium, where the same language is used as the Netherlands, the CSA network is a bit more advanced: their formal association has been existing for several years now and many CSA initiatives as well. 170 Dutch and Flemish CSA farmers and members met for the yearly CSA meeting in Deventer, NL, on the 11th and 12th of January 2020.
When we sat over dinner we discovered that the Flanders people find it very usual to ask a membership fee of 350euros per person per year to participate in a CSA initiative, where the dutch think €250 is normal. It’s just great to be able to discover those differences, speculate on where they come from (is the climate different 300 kms more north? Is that why the Flanders people can produce more veggies throughout winter?), and learn from each other.
The topic of membership fee came up several times through the weekend. It was very new for the participants of the workshop ‘CSA and solidarity’ to hear about ‘the Freiburg’ model where members put the price they’re willing to pay on a note, everything is added up, and if the total sum is not enough to cover the total costs of production (including labor!), another round will follow.
In the same workshop a new idea was presented: what if we ask members to pay for one week of vegetables the money they make in 1 hour. This could provide a whole new way of looking at pricing: the money is not related to vegetables but to labor. And the price people have to pay is very much adapted to their own capacity to pay. Let’s see where this will go.
Land is a big topic in the Netherlands, where a piece of arable land costs on average €100.000 per hectare to buy. This makes it very difficult to pay for with normal primary production. CSA can offer better opportunities of course, but to build up soil and to build up a network of members long term access to land is a prerequisite. One of the farmers of the plenary session finds it unjust is people make money over land, just by owning it. He believes money should be made over labor and not over ownership. With a group of people he bought land and together they now work on how to formalize this land free from profit.
CSA Netherlands/Flanders is a vibrant community that is developing fast and enthusiastically. We can’t wait to meet CSA initiatives to together learn and together work on our common dream: food sovereignty for all!