Communication and building social capital in community supported agriculture

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Furness, E., Bellamy, A. S., Clear, A., Finnigan, S. M., Meador, J. E., Mills, S., Milne, A. E. and Sharp, R. T. 2022. Communication and building social capital in community supported agriculture. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 12 (1), pp. 63-78.

AuthorsFurness, E., Bellamy, A. S., Clear, A., Finnigan, S. M., Meador, J. E., Mills, S., Milne, A. E. and Sharp, R. T.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) schemes (programs) provide an alternative means for ob­taining produce, through direct purchase from farms. They are also often driven by a vision of transforming the current mainstream food system and seek to build a community of people who sup­port this vision. Social capital refers to the net­works and ties between people and groups and the impact of these ties on access to influence, infor­mation, opportunity, and ability to organize. Social capital is built by CSAs and helps foster and stabi­lize the grassroots agricultural innovations that are needed for the development of sustainable food systems. Using the concept of social capital, we studied communication methods of four CSAs in the UK, examining the interactions between CSAs and their members and within each of their mem­bership groups. We carried out in-depth interviews with 49 CSA members to establish what interac­tions they had with their CSA and with other mem­bers, and analyzed our data thematically to identify the characteristics of interactions that were impor­tant to participants. We consider how our research may benefit CSA organizations by enabling them to learn what their members want and to learn about the varied ways in which members conceptu­alize their experiences of community derived from their membership. We found that the various CSA communication strate­gies, which consist of fre­quent and varying virtual and face-to-face interac­tions, are able to promote development of both bridging and bonding social capital. Over­all, there is a desire for social connec­tion in CSA member­ships. Furthermore, in CSAs where mem­bers can interact easily, there is potential for CSA member­ship to provide mem­bers with communi­cation that is important as a source of both knowl­edge and social connection. CSAs can maximize both social capital and mem­ber satisfaction by using a range of communication media and methods to meet their members’ circumstances and preferences.

KeywordsAlternative Food Networks; Civic Agriculture; Civic Food Networks; Communication; Social Capital; Community Supported Agriculture; Food Systems
Year of Publication2022
JournalJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Journal citation12 (1), pp. 63-78
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Economic and Social Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Scottish Government
Funder project or codeBB/S014292/1
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY 4.0
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online28 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted22 Jun 2022

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