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Does scale matter? Investigating the growth of a local organic box scheme in Austria

Milestad, Rebecka; Kummer, Susanne and Hirner, Petra (2017) Does scale matter? Investigating the growth of a local organic box scheme in Austria. Journal of Rural Studies, 54, pp. 304-313.

[thumbnail of Milestad et al., 2017_box scheme Adamah.pdf] PDF - Published Version - English
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Document available online at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.06.013


Scaling up local organic food systems may be one way to render the overall food system more environmentally friendly and socially just. This paper focuses on an Austrian organic box scheme, specifically on how its relationship with local farmers is experienced in a process of growth. For data collection, we carried out semi-structured interviews with 19 supplying farmers and conducted a focus group discussion with 11 members of the management staff of the box scheme company. We explore the question: how did the growth of the box scheme influence relationships between supplying farmers and the box scheme in this local organic food system e from the farmers' perspective as well as from the perspective of the box scheme company itself? A major challenge for the box scheme was reconciling its values (e.g. supporting many local organic farms) with practical issues such as logistics and coordination. The box scheme managed its growth by strengthening cooperation with two larger vegetable farms/wholesalers. But its support for diverse local organic farms suffered in this process, and the box scheme was still searching for solutions to efficiently interact with such a high number of suppliers. Having a high number of local producers was central to the box scheme's identity; therefore, internal governance structures needed refinement and reflection. The tension between specific qualities such as procurement from a multitude of local farmers on the one hand, and practical economical and logistical considerations on the other lies at the heart of the experience of scaling up local organic food systems.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Local food system; Scaling up; Box scheme; Organic agriculture; Austria
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems > Markets and trade
Food systems > Produce chain management
Research affiliation:Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien > Sustainable Agr. Systems - IfÖL
Sweden > Formas
Sweden > KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Deposited By: Kummer, Dr. Susanne
ID Code:44935
Deposited On:05 Jan 2023 14:31
Last Modified:09 Jan 2023 06:54
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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