Master-Arbeit von ELENA WOHLMACHER: Comparing CSA in Vienna and Vancouver

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative model of organising the production and distribution of food, that contrasts strongly with industrial agriculture and the conventional food system. Farmers and consumers work together to establish a system dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and in which food is de-commodified, exchange is based on moral values, and communities are reinvigorated. CSAs are still rare in Austria, while they have spread widely in North America. This thesis offers insights into the reasons why CSA saw a weaker development in Vienna, Austria than in Vancouver, Canada. I conducted qualitative interviews with a total of 16 experts in both areas, asking them which factors they perceived as influencing the development of CSA, taking into account the point of view of farmers and consumers. The experts from both areas regarded practicing agriculture following own values and ideals, and achieving financial security as important motivations for farmers to establish a CSA. Yet, the interviews revealed differences in the implementation of the CSA model. While most CSA farmers in Vienna practice CSA as an alternative to the predominant market economy and value community involvement, many farmers in Vancouver use CSA as a business model to access premium markets. According to the experts, consumers in Vienna have strong idealistic and political motives such as social responsibility and protesting the current food system, whereas consumers in Vancouver mainly join a CSA to access local, seasonal and organic food. The results also indicate that the development of CSA may be dependent on the broader context, i.e. the perception of the industrialisation of the regional agricultural and food system, and the availability of local and organic food in mainstream sales channels.