The Education Towards the Creation of Alternative Food Networks project (EATingCRAFT) sought to design an innovative and high-quality training program focusing on up-skilling adult learners interested in building alternative food networks. The project promoted the adoption of Participatory Guarantee Systems and of Community Supported Agriculture in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece and beyond.
Funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, the project is built on a strategic partnership between seven European organisations involved in sustainable food production and consumption. The partners are IFOAM – Organics International (Germany), Nature et Progrès (France), the Association of Conscious Consumers – ACC-TVE (Hungary) PRO-BIO Liga (Czech Republic), MIRAMAP (France), Agroecopolis (Greece) and the International CSA Network URGENCI (based in France).
These partners worked together to advocate for sustainable food systems rooted in organic agriculture. They developed a training program on Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) for adult learners, which focused on how to adopt/adapt PGS in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives.
Around the globe, organic farmers, consumers and facilitating organizations have been developing different innovations aiming at building local food systems based on solidarity and participation such as PGS and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. PGS and CSA are similar in their overall objectives of improving livelihoods of organic producers and increased access to safe and nutritious food for consumers. Both PGS and CSA enhance transparency and shared decision-making processes prioritizing a solidarity approach where the responsibilities for implementing sustainable agriculture practices are shared by the community.
The 2-year project was launched in October 2017 and concluded in December 2019. It produced a training program articulated in 4 modules and a toolkit accessible online here.
Each module was tested in three European countries: Check Republic, Hungary, and Greece.
These countries have now built the tools and the capacity necessary to set up pilot PGS initiatives.
Europe does not have a regulatory environment conducive to PGS and only third-party certified products are allowed to be labeled ‘organic’. European PGS certified producers, unable to make organic claims on their products, can rely on their tight connections with their consumers, often an integral part of the PGS itself. This is the reason why, despite the legal obstacles, PGS initiatives are spreading also in Europe as a complementary tool for certification particularly suitable for those groups of producers and consumers pursuing more meaningful relationships between production and consumption.
During this project, we reserched the synergies that lay behind PGS and CSA systems. On one side we explored the ways PGS can contribute to the CSA approach offering a system to ensure quality and continued improvement of practices. On the other side, we showcased examples of how CSA can inspire PGS in building robust solidarity economy and cultivate relationships between producers and consumers.
This project was also an opportunity to create a network of European PGS initiatives and to learn and share local experiences and challenges at the international level.