Professional success in PROGRESS: MyFarm Harta is the best Good Practice!

The PROGRESS project, funded by the Interreg Europe program, aims to launch a policy change to preserve policy on biodiversity, goods and services. Ecosystem services are the natural basis for economic prosperity and quality of life. However, maintaining production levels without caring for natural processes contributes to ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. There is therefore an urgent need to improve regional policies in this area and to find solutions for the protection of the population and the sustainable use of natural resources. PROGRESS partners therefore meet frequently with stakeholders to encourage multidimensional and dynamic exchanges of experience in order to gain a broader understanding of how to improve their regional policies on biodiversity and ecosystem services. TCDA in Hungary contributes to the work of the Tolna County Council and the Managing Authority of the Environmental and Energy Efficiency Operation Programme.

The Community-supported agriculture (CSA) model connects the producer and the consumers directly within the food system by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of the farm. Because the subscribers have practically full rental rights, not just the profit but the risk is shared. In this system, the consumer procures the raw material directly from the producer, creating a short supply chain that supports the local economy, pollutes the environment less, as transport does not require extra kilometres and provides farmers with a decent income.

This cropsharing practice has many advantages; the pesticide-free farming is eco-friendly and the organic produce has been shown to have a higher vitamin and mineral content, so it contributes not just to biodiversity but health and more nutrient-dense food. It’s a short supply chain without intermediaries, so overhead costs are low, from which both links of the chain can benefit. Chemical free cultivation requires 3-5 times more human work than chemical farming, so it directly helps local employment.

The aim of the MyFarm Harta cropsharing system was to promote small scale farming, and make organic vegetables and fruit easily accessible. In return for subscribing harvest via the webshop, subscribers get their regular box of vegetables and other optional farm goods, like fruits, eggs, herbs, spices, meat and honey… A wide range of seasonal supply is available; in summertime mostly of fruits and vegetables, while in wintertime of smoked meat products and fresh eggs.

The farm was initially financed through IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding platform, which granted the startup capital in 2019. Since then, the system has been running through subscriptions. Recognizing the benefits of the model, new farmers can join the franchise, so MyFarm already operates in six municipalities. However, not everyone can join, in addition to professional criteria, it is also very important that the new farmer should feel the values shared by the MyFarm community, as it is a solidarity-based franchise. At the same time, the livelihood of farmers must be ensured- in the long run the production should be limited on an average area of 2000 m2, as chemical-free farming can still be maintained on this scale, but the crop is already enough for the farmer to work full time.

And what makes the participants of this model a community; subscribers have a say in the happenings on the farm. The farmer and his team has a Facebook group, where a constant cooperation is kept up, information and news are shared, preferred plants and proportions in the plantation can be voted for. Subscribers are welcome to visit the farm, they can participate in the harvest or just follow the development of the plants via an online application. A good indicator of the functionality of the model is the 50% return rate, and we believe this will only increase in the future.

The whole operation is transparent, which builds and maintain trust. A charity scheme is also included in the model, the farm donates 10% after each order to children in need and charity package can also be bought.

This is a valuable experience for the PROGRESS project partners because it is a model that can be implemented in any other country. The particular value of this Good Practice is the economic viability and the fact that it can be implemented with appropriate financial and professional support in any country in Europe.