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GOING TO CALIFORNIA, in January 2013!

The International Network for Community Supported Agriculture, URGENCI, brings its Biennial Symposium to California as an EcoFarm preconference in collaboration with CAFF.

The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) shares with URGENCI the concern of advocating for Community-Supported Agriculture. They agreed to collaborate with URGENCI and be the US fiscal sponsor for this project. CAFF is a non-profit organization in California that advocates for sustainable agriculture and family farmers. It has been one of the principal proponents of direct marketing in the region and was the only California-based organization to promote CSAs. CAFF founded the “CSA West” project in 1994 and was instrumental in popularizing this community-based farming and marketing model in California. At present CAFF is representing CSAs in regulatory proceedings with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and with the Environmental Health Officers of the state.

> This International CSA Conference will be held on January 20th-23rd, 2013 at Asilomar (CA).

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a movement that has taken hold independently in countries around the world, in an effort to build a more just and sustainable system of food and agriculture. URGENCI is an international network of these CSA movements (which have different names in different regions), seeking to unite the farmers and consumers whose actions on a local level are benefiting the global community and ecosystem. The network also seeks to introduce the principles of the CSA model to communities where it has not yet taken hold, and to build alliances with grassroots partners with whom we share the ambitions to achieve local food sovereignty, to preserve biodiversity and to work toward food justice.

> URGENCI & CAFF seek to reach out to allies around the world and strengthen links between CSA farmers, activists, and consumers in all the Americas.
1   Bringing the Symposium to California, with Ecofarm

Every two years, URGENCI organizes an International Symposium in a country where the CSA movement is strong. At this event, members of the network and others gather for CSA farm visits and workshops that explore topics pertaining to the CSA movement.

In the past, the Symposium has been held in Aubagne, France; in Palmela, Portugal; and most recently in Kobe, Japan.

In 2013, URGENCI will hold it's International symposium in California, where the CSA movement is strong and a well-developed community of sustainable growers already exists. This conference will be held in cooperation with the Ecofarm conference, and will consist of a pre-conference of workshops and farms tours, organized by URGENCI and US participating agencies. There will be also workshops integrated into the main part of the Ecofarm conference featuring the Symposium's US and international guests as speakers offering a diverse perspective on CSA.

As you may already know, EcoFarm is the Ecological Farming Association, nurturing healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and the environment by bringing people together for education, alliance building and advocacy. For over three decades, the annual EcoFarm conference, EcoFarm’s flagship event, has brought food system stakeholders together for education, networking and celebration. The Conference includes over 60 workshops featuring prominent speakers on agricultural techniques for beginning and seasoned farmers and ranchers; marketing strategies; cross-cutting research; regional food systems; education and training; and food and farm policy. Serving up organic meals and lively music, the EcoFarm Conference is the largest and oldest ecological agriculture gathering in the western United States, and it is loads of fun.

2   Expected outcomes of the 2013 International Symposium
  • To empower a strong, vibrant California CSA coalition
  • To facilitate exchanges between CSA movements from around the world, sharing best practices and challenges
  • To reach out to allies in the United States and Latin America. The 5th Symposium is the second to be organized outside Europe. The previous Symposium in Japan provided a great opportunity to reach out to new contacts throughout Asia;
  • In California, we look forward to reaching out to stakeholders from all parts of the American continents.

Who will attend:

Both U.S. and international participants will attend the Symposium. We expect to invite as participants and speakers, at least 30 international visitors and 150-200 American farmers and CSA organizers, with a strong representation from California growers. We expect that most participants will also stay to take advantage of the main EcoFarm Conference.

Itinerary: The Symposium includes the following core activities:

- A full day of pre-conference workshops specifically related to the CSA movement around the world (draft program here);

- A day of farm visits, as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange and understanding of the CSA movement locally;

- Workshops with an International CSA theme, integrated into the programming of the main EcoFarm conference; and

- Meetings to conduct elections for the next URGENCI International Committee and chart the course of the organization for the next two years (these meetings are usually attended by a smaller group than the rest of the activities).

The Urgenci Symposium is officially held in English, Spanish and French, with a team of interpreters offering simultaneous translation.

A few of the many conference participating CSA organizations

- National Young Farmers’ Coalition, United States

- Just Food, New York, NY

- Madison Area CSA Coalition, WI

- MOFGA, Maine

- Institute for Integrated Rural Development (IIRD), India

- Nekasarea network, Biskaia

- Japan Organic Agriculture Association, Japan

- Equiterre, Québec

- Soil Association, United Kingdom

- MIRAMAP, France
- GAS networks, Italy

- Réseau des GASAP, Brussels

3   Funding the Symposium
We are seeking funds to ensure a diverse population of farmers from around the world join the conversation and contribute their wisdom to this important movement.

Additional costs include pre-conference organizing expenses, symposium venue, interpretation equipment, transport, accommodation, and, of course, locally sourced, delicious food. We expect to raise a portion of our expense budget through participant registration and contributions from our participating nonprofit partners, and hope you are able to join us in making a contribution to support this critical, international conversation!

> Join us as a sponsor to help make our vision for a collaborative, inspiring international community of CSA growers, organizers and farm members a reality. Help bring the International CSA conference in California in 2013!