Participation: equality- and practice-oriented research

Researchers must integrate research with practice and develop inclusive projects that prioritise the direct involvement of practitioners to create more collaborative relationships. Project foci and target goals can be developed mutually, resources

Table 6.2 Benefits and challenges associated with different marketing strategies for farmers

Marketing option

Benefits

Challenges

Key outcomes

Exporting fresh/raw products

Ability to standardise production based on expected demand, simplified production, optimising what can be grown efficiently

Price received for goods based on international market prices; low prices for raw/fresh products; seasonal conditions influence yield and quality; need to produce high amounts to be competitive; reliance on mechanisation

Export-oriented farms often support themselves by cultivating large areas and producing fewer varieties, less impact on relocalisation

Exporting processed products

Ability to earn higher prices for preprocessed and processed products for which storage and transport may be simplified

Must establish processing infrastructure in compliance with local and international health and safety requirements

Higher upfront investments to establish processing infrastructure

Domestic wholesale supermarkets and traders

Tighter/proximate supply chains and ability to sell higher quantities of fresh products in fewer locations

Low prices for products; difficulties complying with aesthetic and uniformity standards of wholesalers; larger sellers often not interested in lesser known and seasonal vegetables

Establishing lasting relationships with wholesalers is time-consuming, prices are dictated by regional and international markets

Domestic retail: restaurants, organic shops and web retailers

Tighter/proximate supply chains; ability to receive a better price for goods; greater wi llingness to accept diverse and seasonal produce

Smaller operations may not possess the logistical capacity to regularly supply products and/or fulfil retailers’ expectations re. quantity and uniformity

1 he market tor sales of locally produced seasonal products in restaurants, bio-shops and online portals is still emerging in Central and Eastern Europe

On-farm sales: stands, box pick up and harvest your own

Low marketing costs because consumers come to the production site; can earn more while selling at lower prices

Logistically problematic if consumers arrive at irregular times and disrupt other work; only feasible in ideal locations near consumer bases or touristic areas

Often only feasible for supplementary income or for farms in periurban locations near wealthy customer bases

Direct sales: farm shop or road stand

An ideal location can serve as a fairer retail space which can result in premium prices for sales of products

Farmer must incur cost of maintaining/ renting shop or stand and attract a significant amount of traffic in a select time frame to be worthwhile

Likely only successful in proximity to large customer bases or higher income neighbourhoods.

Traditional CSA and weekly box system

Production oriented to produce a quantity of products to satisfy known demand, subscriptions and prepayments can offer reliable regular finance for farm activities throughout the seasons, high transparency

I ligh time investment required to create relationship with community bases, ensure the minimum number of subscriptions, farms often only employ through the growing season leaving seasonal employees wanting in off-seasons; High customer turnover season to season

CSA systems help share the risks associated with production and can provide income stability to producers, but still require a significant amount of time investment in communication and outreach

Direct sales: producers’ market

Grower can orient production with a vision of expected sales base, premium price received for sales and potentially lower marketing costs

High competition at popular markets; difficult to establish visibility as a new grower; high time investment to harvest and sell goods; often cater to higher income neighbourhoods, a mix of conventional and organic producers can confuse customers' expectations re. price and aesthetics

Established direct markets can provide stability but require time and effort to develop, markets must d ifferentiate organic/ecological producers from conventional ones, and communicate clearly differentiated locality, seasonality and production practices.

Food cooperatives and local food communities

Food communities can offer a fairer exchange relationship, ability to include advocacy and education while helping sell products

Requires time investment and creativity from active citizens, cooperatives face challenges in generating enough income to secure operating space, must be compliant with health and safety standards and retail legislation

Food communities play a key role in educating consumer bases and advocating for differentiated food provisioning choices

Hybrid box system

Models

Provide more flexibility than traditional CSA models, which attract a higher number of customers; can be adapted to provide a box offering throughout all seasons

High time investment is required to develop weekly box offerings which are attractive, individual, unique box orders requiring more preparation than fixed predetermined boxes

Hybrid weekly box system models can cater to a larger customer base than fixed box systems but require more administrative and direct labour

Self-Organised or communal food provisioning, land-sharing and planned agricultural communities

Production plan can satisfy the needs of a group living in close proximity, simplifying production and securing income with no or low marketing costs

Require a high amount of trust and a close relationship between families living, and cooperating, close to the site of production; maintaining relationships is challenging.

Communal farming is predicated on close relationships and long-term commitments that tend, therefore, to be either very successful or very unsuccessful

shared between researchers and those being researched, and research outputs must reach stakeholders directly. Participatory action research and ethnographic methods - such as the autoethnography illustrated here - are most relevant. Advocates, activists and researchers can physically participate in different stages of local food networks to gain a better understanding of day-to-day challenges of producers, or to play a role in increasing access to locally produced food in a region. As with action research, stakeholders can decide on the best use of researchers’ skills, networking and individual capacities to decide on what section of local food chains might have greatest impact. Those with an interest in becoming producers can develop skills while learning and providing support to local practitioners in their vicinity. Such research can enhance degrowth both in theory and practice.

Degrowth-inspired food and agricultural policy reform advocacy

Researchers can play key roles in disseminating best practices on and off the farm, advocating for human-scale producers and acknowledging them within local food policy development, agricultural policy reform, and the continuing education of food consumers and families whose choices affect local producers. Advocates must campaign for aggressive urban and rural food policy reform to increase access to sustainably produced local foods; for agricultural policies that shift away from land- and production-based payments and, instead, incentivise agroecology, soil conservation, biodiverse production and regenerative practices that acknowledge planetary biophysical limits on which degrowth literature focuses.

Conscious local food entrepreneurship

There remains space for developing new ways to increase access to local food products in urban locations. Practitioners have been very creative in establishing functioning marketing chains in the form of markets, box systems, CSA programmes and traditional retail sales, but supporters can continue to help experimentation with new degrowth-inspired marketing mechanisms to impact food producers. Much potential remains for linking the entrepreneurial spirit which empowers diverse gastro-food culture in cities, and locally produced, seasonal products. Examples include burgeoning fermentation and other value-adding processes of niche retail stores and specific caterers. Integrating conscious food consumption principles into catering and restaurants, food processing, public canteens and street food movements evolving in cities can be led by people from diverse professional and research backgrounds. New food entrepreneurship supports producers on the ground while providing employment in a system based on fair exchange and equality throughout the different phases of production and consumption of food products.

 
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