Direct exchange between producers and consumers, can return more money to the farmers while making good food more affordable for eaters.
Farmers and farming are critical to the creation of resilient and sustainable communities and ecosystems. To maintain existing skills and knowledge, and to attract young people to farming, farmers must be able to make a good living from what they do.
Everyone deserves good quality, nutritious food and the security of knowing where their next meal is coming from. Societal goals of freedom, equity and stability cannot be achieved unless everyone has access to good food.
A food system that meets the ongoing interests of farmers/producers and eaters/consumers (all of us) must return power and control to those producers and consumers.
While direct marketing and exchange opportunities are rapidly increasing, there are opportunities (and a need) to adapt, replicate, scale-up and accelerate.
Direct farmer-eater marketing and sales systems include: farmers’ markets; box schemes; community supported agriculture (CSA); multi-farmer CSA; buyer coops; producer coops; online sales and the beginning stages of food hubs. From the eater end, we have an increasing number of options for households (i.e the above) but major limitations to direct purchase of local foods by restaurants; food service and other institutions.
Many of the existing enterprises and activities are instigated and run by highly-driven and committed individuals and groups, often contributing large amounts of volunteer time or barely making ends meet. The need for these kinds of activities has never been clearer, but to really proliferate the barriers to participation and the torment of organisation need serious attention!
There is also an urgent need to improve knowledge and inform changes to reduce oil vulnerability and greenhouse emissions from these newly emerging systems e.g. a high reliance on small light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and additional consumer trips could mean that these systems are not as ready for a post-carbon future as you might hope.