Name of organisation
AMPI (Asociace místních potravinových iniciativ, o.p.s.)
Type of organisation
Community Supported Agriculture Network
short food supply chains, civic food networks, training, community supported agriculture
Civic Food Networks
Who is KPZkoALICE ?
KPZkoALICE is an innovative Community-Supported Agriculture network that established in the Spring of 2020.
Networks like KPZkoALICE are necessary to fulfill the vital functions of a social movement, such as mutual support and mentoring for new initiatives. It is therefore important to review how such an organisation develops and evolves.
In brief, KPZkoALICE is a space for sharing experiences and mutual support, designed for actors of local food initiatives in the Czech Republic.
The patronage of KPZkoALICE takes the form of a member network of NGOs, with Asociace Místních Potravinových Iniciativ (AMPI) as an umbrella organisation. AMPI is a member of URGENCI, the international network of Community -Supported Agriculture (CSA) and other forms of Local and Solidarity -based Partnerships for Agroecology (LPSA).
The main actors involved are:
- small scale organic farmers
- food citizens
- ‘conscious consumers’
The aim of KPZkoALICE is to connect farmers and consumers involved in CSA and similar Local Solidarity Partnerships based on Agroecology (LSPA). This enables them to share experiences and build a community of practice, while also promoting and strengthening CSA in the Czech Republic and Europe.
KPZkoALICE is still an informal network facilitated by a team of 3 part-time staff. This team ensures the operation of the website and manages the database of contacts, educational activities, mentoring, connecting actors, consulting, communicating in the network, bringing know-how from abroad, and cooperating with foreign partners, such as those within the international network URGENCI.
In the short term, the intention is to have a CSA network as one of the independently developing parts of the supporting NGO – AMPI. This member network will participate in the management of the whole organization through mediated representation. Sub-working groups will be formed within the membership network, including volunteer groups.
Who do KPZkoALICE work with and how they do it?
KPZkoALICE primarily cooperates with organizations that focus on the development, promotion and awareness of organic farming and sustainable consumption at a national or international level.
Pro-Bio Liga, the Czech organic federation, is the organisation’s closest partner and collaboration is focussed on organic farming promotion and education of consumers.
URGENCI and other organisations involved in this network are partner with KZPkoALICE in a number of international projects that focus on CSA development and education.
Together with Hnutí Duha (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic), KZPkoALICE manage a map – ‘the Directory of farmers’. Usually based on informal partnership and verbal agreements, the organisations support each other to share communication campaigns in the field of sustainable farming and local food systems.
CSA farms, like those below, are key actors in KPZkoALICE’s development. Collaboration is mostly based on a voluntary basis, but sometimes they are part of projects.
- Centrum Konipas (organic farm and training centre) https://centrumkonipas.cz/ ,
- Farma Lukava (a CSA organic farm) https://www.lukava.net ,
- Svobodný statek (a CSA biodynamic community farm) , https://www.svobodny-statek.cz ,
- KomPot (a CSA community garden) https://kom-pot.cz
Benefits of Collaboration
The collaboration with URGENCI partners helps tremendously to bring the topic of food sovereignty and to apply the CSA model in the Czech Republic. Together we have developed several comprehensive educational programs for food communities and CSA farmers, produced plenty of information materials in various forms, and organized many trainings for farmers and consumers.
The Partnership Foundation (Nadace partnerství) currently provides financial support for the development of the KPZkoALICE but also mentoring and courses to strengthen the self-management skills of the organisation.
CSA farmers and coordinators are key actors of KPZkoALICE as they are food community founders and leaders. They benefit from knowledge, experience sharing and collaboration with others in the network. The network provides them with contacts, education, advice and helps them to promote their farm or community.
Challenges & Obstacles to Collaboration
The biggest challenge is the inability to make best use of all the opportunities because of limited staff capacity. Farmers and community coordinators, who play a key role in creating KPZkoALICE, have limited capacity. The cooperation with them takes place mostly on a voluntary basis.
Territorial Food Systems
- A) CSA offers a direct partnership between food producers and consumers. KPZkoALICE encourages co-operation on an annual basis, which includes financial inputs in the form of prepayment for the season and a commitment to take food production from the co-operating farmer regardless of sudden changes (g. climatic, volatile harvests) during the season.
- B) Most CSAs in the Czech Republic are so-called “consumer-led” which means that consumers play an important role in community coordination. Via the website https://kpzinfo.cz, KPZkoALICE offer them information, educational materials and personal support in establishing or developing their own community.
- C) KPZkoALICE are the umbrella organization for territorial food systems and as a part of URGENCI, by collaborating with other partners in the network they are bringing innovation from abroad to the Czech Republic.
In 2021, KPZkoALICE began hosting regular monthly webinars to offer a space to share experiences and connect people active in food communities. They also set up and moderate a closed Facebook group and an e-newsletter. The aim of these activities is to showcase stories of farms and existing communities, show examples of best practice, spark communication and provide opportunities to meet and start collaboration.
What are KPZkoALICE main challenges?
The main challenge is the long-term sustainability of communities that are built largely on voluntary work. Relying exclusively on the creativity, enthusiasm and capacity of volunteer leaders and communities can cause burnout and an inability to find followers who are willing and able to take on active roles in the coordination team. Another challenge can sometimes be the passivity of members, although this may be due to the previous point.
Due to the fact that AMPI is based in Prague, the relationship and cooperation with communities outside of the capital city is much more difficult.
To face these challenges, KPZkoALICE plans to offer a wider range of opportunities to meet on a regular basis not only to educate, but to learn, to listen, to create a space for an open sharing of experiences and to build trust. KPZkoALICE’s goal is to develop mentoring, personal coaching and to combine face-to-face and online meetings. For this, they will invite experts in the areas of non-violent communication, leadership, mentoring and facilitation. They will then also seek out potential leaders and mentors in the regions and offer them cooperation, support and the opportunity to strengthen their skills.
What are the priorities for KPZkoALIC?
The top priority is the transition of KPZkoALICE into a formal network and setting the organisational structure, internal processes, membership levels and sustainable fundraising.
Another strategic priority is to develop a new web-based platform to more effectively make information resources and education available to consumers and farmers with varying levels of knowledge and experience.
A third priority is developing individual advice and mentoring for farmers and food community leaders.
These priorities have been identified during internal management meetings and events, trainings, surveys and interviews with farmers, leaders and members of existing CSAs.
These activities are important because they maintain continuity and further develop education capacity that is needed in order to offer support to CSA farmers and local food communities.