Community Supported Agriculture
: Sustainability, Community and New Relationships with Food?

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science (MSc)

Abstract

It is argued that the recent industrialisation and homogenisation of agricultural production has distanced food system participants from one another, creating increasingly individualistic, unfamiliar and compartmentalised food systems. It is in this context that demand for locally sourced, sustainable food provisioning has come to the fore. Current agri-food literature continues to perpetuate problematic dualisms, including nature/culture, alternative/conventional, local/global, and producer/consumer. This masks the heterogeneity of sustainability concerns, not addressing their complexity. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) encourages and drives sustainable food provisioning, whilst aiming to bring together communities. This thesis explores how CSA may bring about sustainable values by educating members through their practices. It attempts to characterise expressions of care in CSA farms, and how they may bring communities together to strengthen food system durability. A mixed-method analysis comprising interviews, participant observation, directives, and discourse analysis explores the narratives of CSA members and farms. A tapestry approach is used to weave these narratives together, forming an understanding of the processes and practices occurring. This thesis finds that through CSA farm involvement, members became producers in their own right, bridging divisions in understanding surrounding agriculture and sustainability, alongside the accompanying dualisms. CSA farm involvement brought communities together and helped members forge new relationships with food. Thus, members better recognised the need for sustainable agriculture, which fostered commitments to more sustainable lifestyles. Future research should recognise the heterogeneity of member experiences at different CSA farms, to fully understand these complex spaces. Further studies should examine the barriers to diversity within CSA farms to broaden accessibility to sustainable and culturally appropriate food.
Date of Award24 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorDale Southerton (Supervisor) & David M Evans (Supervisor)

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