Schumacher Center for a New Economics – Panel – 46 minute audio
The transformative concept behind Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – in which citizens share the risks and successes of a business with the entrepreneur – is increasingly understood in the realm of agriculture. But what would it mean to develop a similar understanding for other local production? Can we also embrace “Community Supported Industry“?
Shaping an economic system that is both equitable and sustainable requires creating new jobs without increased growth. One strategy to achieve this is import-replacement, with a focus on more labor intensive, small-batch production, transported over shorter distances. The development of import-replacing businesses will in turn create new jobs, foster technological innovation, retain manufacturing skills, and maximize recirculation of regional capital. In a strong regional economy people may rely on their own work and ingenuity to provide for a majority of their needs, and they will no longer be beholden to global market forces. The question now is, how can we design initiatives that help import-replacement businesses establish themselves and succeed?
Panelists were Alice Maggio, Local Currency Program Director at Schumacher Center for a New Economics, Tim Geller, Executive Director of the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, and Ted Dobson, organic farmer and owner of Equinox Farms and Selectman in the town of Sheffield, MA.
As well as the CSA and the import-substitution strategies, there are other ways to support local enterprise, particularly agricultural. One example is Farm Works of Nova Scotia, an investors’ co-op launched two years ago “to promote and provide strategic and responsible community investment in food production and distribution to increase access to a sustainable local food supply for all Nova Scotians.” They have assisted – and advised – local farmers, distributing $450,000, since then.
Note: Farm Works does NOT assist mink farms, a contentious issue here where governments have characterized them as “agricultural” for funding purposes.