Communal gardening. Communal farming.

Communal gardening. Communal farming.

There are many approaches to achieving greater self-sufficiency with fresh organic vegetables. Many new forms of agriculture and horticulture have arisen in recent years: from neighbourhood and communal gardening projects through to the pre-financing of harvest shares from organic vegetable growers.

The aim is always to jointly establish new, specific and tangible ways of supplying fresh, regional, organic foods and reproducible varieties, independent of the supermarket supply. People come together, plant communal gardens, jointly establish an agricultural operation or pool money in the form of crowdfunding initiatives, co-operatives or citizen share companies in order to increase the extent of regional organic farming.

Communal gardens
"Communal garden" is the umbrella term for a variety of forms of division of land and labour. During the past 10 years, communal gardens have been created in many urban and rural locations. They all have in common that a group of people come together to rent or lease a plot of land. Some cities actively support the creation of communal gardens or are now actively initiating the creation of communal gardens. Most of these are divided so that each person cultivates their own plot, at others, all or some of the patches are cared for communally. Many communal gardens are subject to only temporary rights of use or temporary contracts for use of the plot. This is one of their main drawbacks, because it usually precludes the planting of perennial plants. For many, however, who don't have any other opportunity to cultivate vegetables, communal garden plots offer much more than just self-sufficiency: interaction with a wide variety of people, the opportunity to garden alone or with the kids, meeting places in a semi-public environment away from commercial spaces such as shopping centres.

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture
While in many places, small (and even larger) farms are closing down (six per day, for example, in Austria!), new operations have been created under the catchword of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in recent years. CSA is also sometimes known as Community Shared Agriculture. For people with jobs, or those who don't have their own gardens, but like to cook and make preserves on a regular basis, supplying oneself in the context of CSA is an ideal form of obtaining freshly harvested organic vegetables and herbs. A group of people individually commits to purchasing one or several harvest shares of a market garden or other agricultural operation, and, with these fixed contributions, covers the expenditures required for running the operation, while also ensuring fair remuneration for the people cultivating the vegetables and other products. In this way, the sustainability of a small operation which grows a variety of different vegetables can be secured. Both for the gardeners and for the consumers, this concept yields numerous benefits: even with a small 1-3-hectare holding, a single well-functioning CSA operation can generate sufficient income and, by means of versatile cultivation planning, supply dozens or even several hundred people with a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs long-term. Some even manage a year-round supply. Only a personal kitchen garden – provided the necessary equipment, time and knowledge of planting and harvesting is available – is able to provide this.

Andrea Heistinger
VIKING gardening expert

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