Sustainability Values in Alternative Food Networks: The case of box schemes and CSAs
Paola is a PhD student at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University. Her research focuses on the financial and operational performance of box schemes and CSAs in England and Wales. Paola has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and master’s in urban design. For five years Paola worked at Sustain in the Capital Growth project which supported Londoners to create over 2,000 food-growing community gardens in London. Paola co-owned and worked at Calabaza Growers for three years, a small-scale horticultural business in the edge of London that supplied vegetables to box schemes in London.
The Alternative Food Networks (AFN) literature studies initiatives such as box schemes, community supported agriculture (CSAs) initiatives and farmers’ markets that operate within values opposite to those of the conventional food system. However, critical literature has evidenced that AFNs also implement conventional values therefore questioning if they are an alternative. It is argued that the difference is that AFNs promise to be sustainable through the implementation of sustainable values. As such, to establish their difference it is necessary to study how sustainable values are practiced and to what extent. This seminar will show the results of a PhD research on box schemes and CSAs which concludes that they practice sustainability by choosing two main values: The principle value and commercial behaviour. These two values impact social, economic and environmental values, making case studies trade-off between them. The extent to which values are practiced is also dependent upon these two values.