For the case-study in this De-commodifying agriculture program from Coventry University, farm analysis it will start with classical farm economics, analysis of balance sheets, P&L accounts.
Then it will add further layers of deeper analysis, yields, inputs, labour, education, eco-system services, combining natural and social science approaches.
Then, going further, it will use social return on investment methodology (SROI).
This will first capture the values of the CSA funders, ongoing value change over 30-years and then measure and quantify the outcomes against the values of the CSA.
This will give an intrinsic (internal to the community values) value-based measurement of environmental, social and spiritual outputs. Because it is also monetised it can be compared to farm business data and capture the de-commodification of agriculture, while equally critically analysing it.
Temple Wilton Community farm in New Hampshire, USA is one of the oldest CSAs in the world. A CSA is a community supported agriculture scheme. Although, communal and community agriculture have existed at least since the reformation, e.g. Schleitheimer Bekenntnis Switzerland (1525), Bruderhöfe and various types of community farms of Mennonites in Europe and the Americas.
Later, in the early 20th century, biodynamic farms like Hof-Community Marienhöhe existed since 1928 in Weimar Germany, 4 years after Rudolf Steiner’s historic Landwirtschaftlicher Kurs on biological agriculture at Koberwitz near Breslau, Silesia, Poland (1924). However, the birth of the modern concept of CSA where the community is not only rural and connects farming with urban dwellers and many other professions then farming can be traced back to the ideas of Trauger Groh and kindred spirits like Lincoln Geiger and Anthony Graham starting the Temple Wilton CSA (1985), more than 30 years ago. Therefore, the farm provides a long-term timeline and study material for the ups and downs of this movement and the attempts to de-commodify agriculture.
It triggers profound research questions like is there a new association between consumer, farmer and the earth in which cooperation is the principle, thereby decoupling the notion of crops being traded under a unit cost and being commodified under the economics of scale ‘rule’, as if it is a law of nature.
Ecological economics thinking on entropy and the de-growth school of thought, going back to the Rumanian Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s work ‘Entropy Law and the Economic Process’ (1971), indicate that this cannot be the case long-term.
There are several more works of ecological economists being mathematicians and statisticians like Georgescu-Roegen with abstract theories on the subject.
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