Transition to Sustainable Agri-Food System through CSA Initiatives: The Social Innovation Attempts of the University and Local Communities

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Prominentenzimmer (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Yi-ting CHUNG, National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan
Hua TAI, National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan
Social responsibility has been recently included by universities in their strategic goals, which represents a commitment to promoting the well-being of local communities and wider regions through teaching and research. In the face of widespread deprivation and deactivation of agriculture and rural life, how universities can bring positive impacts on rural transformation to more sustainable development? This paper explores the potential for such transformation to sustainability by bridging the university and rural communities. We examine this potential by reflecting on projects undertaken by a university research team in Taiwan to implement Community-Supported Agriculture initiatives. CSA is designed to directly connect growers and consumers and to foster reciprocal and caring relationship between them. The projects in question were developed and practiced by appealing to CSA principles. It was found that not only can access to safe and healthy food be created through CSA initia­tives, but these initiatives, in which student groups participated with the assistance of the research team, can also have positive effects on campus, by raising students’ consciousness of agri-food production and their consumption habits, and by calling their attention to issues over “ethical” consumption. Moreover, participation of students in agricultural activities, such as harvesting, selling farm produce, and helping to arrange experiential tours, can provide significant support for transformation to sustainable agriculture in rural communities, where farmers are typically elderly people.