Practicing Solidarity Agriculture
A non-industrial agricultural network of private households that covers the production costs and receives harvest yields in return. A transparent partnership between consumers and producers that adopts sustainable agricultural practices and creates bi-directional relationships around food production, distribution, and consumption


Controlling global food markets and seeking increased profits for shareholders, large corporations pay for products, not labour, and therefore discourage smaller-scale farms, many of which grow diverse rather than monoculture crops. As a result, agricultural skills and related cultural knowledge pertaining to land and ecology are lost to large-scale industrial processes, and ecosystems are damaged by over-intensive methods of extraction.


SoLaWi (Solidarische Landwirtschaft) is a German network of farms operating with methods of ecological and social solidarity developed as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system. CSA ensures a direct partnership between farmers and co-farmers (SoLaWi’s term for consumers) where members pay a monthly fee that covers the labour of the farmers.

Started in Japan in the late 1950s and early 1960s through a ‘teikei’ (cooperative) system of direct distribution, the practice of paying farmers for their labour resisted an increasingly mechanised and chemically intensified form of agriculture then underway in Japan. Cooperative principles foster mutual understanding of food and labour whereby both producers and consumers provide labour and capital to grow food and support their own delivery system.

The concept was introduced to Switzerland in 1978 through the cooperative Les jardins de Cocagne (Schlaraffengärten) and to the US in 1985. In Germany, the first SoLaWi was created in the late 1980s around Buschberghof, a Community Land Trust in northern Germany. These cooperative ventures all focus on the principle that the costs of running a farm are shared amongst the community, with each household pledging to support what it can, in return for fresh produce.

Since these early initiatives, more than 400 solidarity agriculture communities have been created in Germany forming the SoLaWi network. Functioning as a grassroots democratic organisation, SoLaWi provides support and resources to both farmers and consumers, promoting the dissemination of solidarity agriculture by identifying farming as a shared social and ecological responsibility.

Members also run educational programmes in food and crop varieties and share production methods and costs. Disseminating the combined social and ecological importance of local production and solidarity-based economies, SoLaWi presents a vital model for facing climate breakdown and its implications for food, water and land distribution. Prioritising situated knowledges, skills, species of crops, and solidarity, Community Supported Agriculture presents a lasting alternative to exploitative agribusinesses that is capable of translating to many regions and contexts as a global network of local infrastructures.

External links

URGENCI—an international network promoting Community Supported Agriculture as a means of creating more sustainable and equitable food systems 

Slow food – a global grassroots initiative that advocates for preserving traditional and regional food cultures, promoting sustainable farming practices, and encouraging locally sourced and seasonal food 

Potato Movement—grassroots socio-agriculture movement in Greece, in which farmers sold their potatoes directly to the public causing a historic market deflation in potato prices