Sustainability, 14(12), 7419

Multiple systemic crises have highlighted the vulnerabilities of our globalised food system, raising the demand for more resilient and ecologically sustainable alternatives, and fuelling engagement in practices such as community-supported agriculture (CSA). In CSA, local farmers and households share the costs and products of farming, allowing them to organise food provision non-commercially around short supply chains. While this may prefigure alternatives to the dominant food system, CSA is considered limited in regard to its scalability and accessibility. While these shortcomings apply to individual CSAs, we know little about whether multi-CSA networks can tackle them by expanding and institutionalising their practices at scale. This paper alleviates this blind spot by investigating local CSA networks in Wales and Germany through a lens of ‘food movement networks’, identifying their scaling practices and encountered challenges. It draws on semi-structured interviews with CSA actors and observations at network gatherings. The paper shows that local collaboration enables CSAs to integrate their supply chains (scaling out), engage their communities (scaling deep), and participate in food councils (scaling up), while further networking at regional level helps new initiatives start up. It also reveals competitive tensions between neighbouring CSAs, which constitutes a hitherto unknown challenge to CSA’s potential scalability.