Équiterre attended the 6th International Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Conference in Beijing, China, from November 17 to 22. The event was organized by URGENCI, the international network of local solidarity-based partnerships between producers and consumers.
After a rewarding two-day program of farm visits, some thirty workshops and talks were held for participants from twenty or so countries. The Quebec delegation included Isabelle Joncas, project manager of Équiterre’s family farm network, as well as four member farmers. Their presentations focussed on the Cadet-Roussel farm’s land conservation work supported by Protec Terre, the careful approach to crop planning developed by the Tourne Sol Co Operative Farm and the Terra Sativa farm’s biodiversity conservation work. Équiterre’s internationally recognized work in promoting organic food baskets and supporting farms was also presented at a workshop on support organizations.
“Talking to farmers and organizations from around the world who support CSA was such an enriching experience,” says Isabelle Joncas. “The CSA movement has clearly spread to other parts of the world, including Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Spain and Japan. Our discussions included the possibility of networking with each other to strengthen the movement.”
In China, a CSA network has been established since the mid-2000s. Chinese farmers were actually holding their 7th national CSA conference in conjunction with this event. The country’s network of 500 family farmers, which provides food to local communities, is increasingly popular and gaining recognition from the government, thanks to pioneer Dr. Shi Yan, the event organizer. This international conference was one of few events organized by the Chinese civil society with the support of the central and local governments.
Rural-urban migration in China was certainly one focus of attention. It’s a global phenomenon, but industrialization in China is exacerbating issues facing rural youth. In fact, the theme of the conference was “Rural Regeneration.” Will China become more of an agricultural society again in a few years, as it was for so long? Let’s hope so!
Congratulations to our family farmers and the CSA movement, which is spreading across the globe and providing healthy food to local communities in a sustainable responsible way!