Community supported agriculture to ensure wellbeing, food security and environment in the UK


Agriculture is the source of food which is heavily exhausted due to human activities and Greenhouse Gas emission. Moreover, some of the planetary boundaries have already crossed their limitations and posed a risk of collapse (Rockström, et al., 2009). Besides that, hunger, obesity, diabetics, food waste, migration, conflict and climate change are entangled globally with food poverty and weak governance, which has been affecting agriculture negatively. In contrast, increasing global population need more 62 percent food by 2050. To meet the demand, 593-million-hectare land will be needed (FAO, 2018). Hence, there is a huge gap of resources and so as food supply. On the other hand, an experience of global hyperinflation 2008, a gloomy future of food dependency after Brexit in the UK, mandatory World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s rule, potential political instability and natural disaster in food grower developing countries, climate change and lack of agricultural labour have put the food at the centre of policy level. Such challenges and the importance of food economy has in some way been recognised by the UN as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to leave no one behind (UN, 2015). However, the SDGs are largely unfunded in public budgets, lowered in the private investments, financing gaps in developing countries. Because development so far is not delivering inclusive and sustainable growth for all (Guterres, 2018 piii).

United Kingdom is struggling to leave (Brexit) the EU. It has realised that food economy is vital for international trade balance even in promoting democracy (O’Carroll, 2019; Lang 2019; Rawlinson, 2019). In the UK, the evidences show that the food export value is £22.0 billion, and the value of import is 46.2 billion. Among which, about 33 percent food come from the European Countries and the total contribution of agriculture to the national economy is less than one percent, in which 40 per cent farm labour (Lang 2018) are EU migrants. Similarly, increasing number of consumers using food bank, school child food poverty (Association of School and College leader, 2019), NHS cost in treating type 2 diabetes (Coop Party food campaign, 2019) and malnutrition (Prowle, 2019) have underlined the food sector

is the most challenging issue in the future to sustain the UK’s economy (The Trussell Trust, n.d.; Mark, 2019; O’Carroll, 2019; DEFRA, 2017). Notwithstanding, importing food from abroad involve long transportation cost, time and waste.

In fact, it is worth mentioning that the soaring industrial achievement help to increase the growth rate however unable to provide food and nutritional ingredients we eat at least three times in a day. Hence a big responsibility ahead is to set a productive food system that would be achieved from the smallest unit of input with greatest social welfare. By considering the fact, academia such as Lang, (2018) has recommended a highly emphasised food bill that improve the UK’s domestic sourcing of food supported by seasonal and climatic features to secure a sustainable food system integrating wellbeing, public health, consumer protection, animal welfare and environment (Lang,, 2018, James, 2006; Saltmarsh,, 2011). For this, a community supported approach of local agriculture (CSA) is a sustainable and resilient system must be promoted. The study aims to use qualitative research method (QRM) to achieve the determined objectives of this research. After this study, I will be able to conclude the CSA promotes food sustainability, resilient environment and a better community in the UK. As a resident of Basingstoke (17 miles away from Reading), I aim to investigate the role and importance of CSA in Basingstoke. The study can be a milestone work to inspire local, national and international policy level to promote sustainable local food system. This study will be able to pay enough attention on reviewing policy and approach of food system.


Saltmarsh,, (2011) adopted a definition of CAS as “any food, fuel or fibre producing initiatives where the community shares the risks reward of production, whether through ownership, investment, sharing the cost of production or provision of labour” (Saltmarsh,, 2011 p4). CSA was originated in Europe and Japan end evolved in the United States (Paul, 2015; Tegtmeier, 2005). CSA is a mutual agreement between farmers and consumers. It is also a novel marketing and community-building concept (Cone, 2000) where the responsibilities, risks and rewards are shared (Saltmarsh, 2011; CSA website, n.d.). CSA has classified as community-led, producer-led, producer-community partnership and community-owned farm (CSA website, n.d.). The core production of CSA is organic

vegetable, however, also distributed meat, poultry, dairy products, cider, honey, flowers, and maple syrup (Cone, 2000). Curtis, (2013) identified the objectives of joining consumers CSA is to support the environment and a desire of fresh food and health concern. Further, the research shows that the prevalence of obesity is influenced by the number of meals consumed away from home (referred to French et al. 2002 by Curtis, 2013 p47). According to James, (2006) the CSA include three main themes food sufficiency, environmental stewardship and community well-being. So, agriculture should not be altered by the merchandised system (James, 2006) and it should be a matter of quality for nutrition (Lang, 2018). Because any compromise in food quality increase health risk and cost. By considering the matter of food importation after Brexit, O’Carroll (2019) has referred a concern of British farmers if lowering standards than those applied by the British farmers is a serious. Because different standard in food has been applied in the EU, US and other world (Lang,, 2018). In the sustainable agriculture debate James, (2006) has revealed Adam Smith’s writings that the effective economic system must create and maintain a balance between the ‘industries of towns (manufacturers and services) and the industry of the country (agriculture)’ (p 435). Because land is the most important resource for the society (James, 2006). According to Saltmarsh, (2011), however, the local food dynamics is very nominal in the UK as the policies on investment, public awareness, transparency, resiliency and sustainability are the challenges. Whereas, the community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives fulfilled full or nearly all members’ requirement. Also, CSA has changed cooking and eating habits, improved health, skills and quality of life (Saltmarsh, 2011). Moreover, considering institutionalised CSA practice, the cooperative values and principles are worth to consider in empowering community institution and their organisational structure (Caitlin, 2019). Hence, the CSA model has been increasingly popular (Paul, 2015; O’Donoghue, 2011; William, 2016) to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ultimately, the government has a responsibility to end hunger and achieve food security (Gill, 2018) as food is the concern of basic human rights (UN, 1948).


Research methodology is built on a proven approach to the evaluation of rural community enterprises such as cooperatives values and principles, participatory approach, capability and livelihood approach. The framework of the research methodology will be Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) guided by the Department for International Development (DFID). Because the SLA analyse the factors i.e. assets affecting people’s’ livelihoods (Saltmarsh, 2011). Further, cooperative values and principles will be considered for the sustainability of institutional mechanism (International Cooperative Alliance, n.d.) based on the capability approach (Sen, 1989) to gain four dimensions of food security availability, accessibility, consumption and sustainability.

To achieve the determined objectives of the research the qualitative approach, secondary data, grey literatures and participatory approach will be used. The justification of using QRM is, it serves advocacy and policy goals as a powerful tool of social justice research (Fassinger, 2013). Besides that, I aim to interact with stakeholders, community farmers and their allotments on reviewing policy and approach of local food sustainability and the role of cities. After this study, I will be able to conclude the CSA promotes food sustainability, resilient environment and better community in the UK.


Community based agriculture is the best solution of ensuring food security through resilience and sustainable food system by empowering livelihood, environment and capabilities of the communities? How it can be achieved from local to national level?

Other secondary research questions are

● What community based agriculture looks like?

● Who will be benefited from the community based agriculture and who are the actual stakeholders?

● Why food security and climate change agendas need to be addressed from the grassroots level?

● How resources and skills constraints be managed to gain sustainable of community organisation?


The secret of the UK’s prosperity is based on the industries of towns whereas, the industry of the country is lagging seriously behind. Labour and land are the most important resource for society (James, 2006). However, there is huge policy gap to create a balance between manufacturing industry and agriculture sector. Due to what, food sector is highly depend on import, poses a serious risk of food and nutritional security. Thus, the aim of this research is to achieve following objectives for the sustainable and resilient food system:

● To underline a service where private and public sector is failed to address the local needs

● To identify opportunities for initiatives to improve the UK’s domestic sourcing of food, in line with seasonal and climatic features

● To promote employment and income opportunities from inclusive and balanced approach in using community assets for industry and agriculture

● To reconnect local people with land, food and trade by growing their own food and healthy diet; special focus on youth and women

● To review local agriculture and the food system with national and global perspective

● To bring underused land back into production and

● To suggest a solid policy recommendation


The expected conclusion of the study will be to underline a need of the highest productive approach from the limited resources in the face growing population and human activities. That can be promoted from the community level by bringing underused resources back into production. There is no alternative of food neither are water and land. Inclusive growth from industry and agriculture is equally important. So, the industrial nations must promote local food security system through the sustainable, resilience and better livelihood approach. Caring ecosystem when fulfilling human needs is the only way of protecting earth and future generation.

  • Jagadish Wagle

UoR/PhD 2019

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