Home Page > General IssuesCommunity Food Systems > History of Community Food Systems

Our current agricultural systems are a far cry from the systems of our forebears. All early agricultural systems seemed to have been based on co-operative activities. Many times, land, implements and the harvest activities were all shared.

Modern systems impact the opportunities for community food systems. For example, the nature of land tenure seems to be one of the most decisive factors in whether there are community gardens or not. The degree of urbanisation plays a role as well. As cultures have developed, ownership of land has tended to fall into the hands of just a few.

It was in the 1960s in developed countries that dissatisfaction about the iniquitous access and control of resources began to be questioned. This ‘hippy’ era is to be thanked for many social changes that have helped move our societies towards a more equitable system.

Fifty years ago, half of every dollar spent on food found its way back to rural communities. Since then, value has shifted increasingly away from the middle, as it has been captured on the input side by agrochemical, feed and seed companies, and on the output side by those who transport, process, market and sell produce and food. Those who have suffered as this change has set in are the farmers, communities and local economies.

We are currently experiencing a resurgence in community food systems, but the systems are fragile, and in their infancy. They need our support. Find out what organic community food systems operate in your area and find one that best suits your needs. These food systems provide a win-win situation all round.