Revista Iberoamericana de
Economía Solidaria e
Innovación Socioecológica
Vol. 3 (2020), pp. 169-187 • ISSN: 2659-5311
Anna Torok**
Universidad Corvinus de Budapest
Ágnes Neulinger
Head of Department, Associate professor, Corvinus University of Budapest
György Pataki
Senior Researcher, Environmental Social Science Research Group (ESSRG)
Fanni Bársony
PhD student, Corvinus University of Budapest
Orsolya Lazányi
PhD student, Corvinus University of Budapest
Los casos de redes de comida alternativa sur-
gen en muchos países del mundo. También están
creciendo en Hungría, aunque estos movimientos
aún se encuentran en una etapa temprana de de-
sarrollo (Benedek & Balázs, 2014a). El presente
estudio tiene como objetivo profundizar nuestra
comprensión de la experiencia personal de los
participantes en las redes en Hungría al revelar su
motivación para participar. Este artículo presenta la
investigación empírica realizada entre miembros
de diferentes redes ubicadas en Hungría. A partir
del análisis de entrevistas cualitativas, los principa-
Alternative food network (AFN) cases are
now reported in many countries worldwide. They
are growing in Hungary as well, though the al-
ternative food movement is still at an early stage
of development (Benedek & Balázs, 2014a). The
current study aims to deepen our understanding
of the personal experience of participants in AFNs
in Hungary by revealing their motivation for par-
ticipation. This paper presents empirical research
carried out among members of different AFNs
located in Hungary. Based on the analysis of qua-
litative interviews, the main motivational factors
*This research was supported by project No. EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017-00007, titledAspects
on the development of intelligent, sustainable and inclusive society: social, technological,
innovation networks in employment and digital economy. The project has been supported by
the European Union, co-financed by the European Social Fund and the budget of Hungary.
**We are grateful to the members of the Corvinus University of Budapest research team on
social innovation for their continuous intellectual support. In particular, we would like to thank
Andrea Toarniczky for her review.
P 
Redes alimentarias alternativas; elección
de comida; motivación del consumidor; Teoría
de las Necesidades de Maslow.
Alternative food networks; food choice;
consumer motivation; Maslow’s theory of
Códigos JEL
: Q00.
Fecha de recepción: 12/2/2019 Fecha de aceptación: 20/7/2020
les factores motivacionales son identificados por
los diferentes tipos de redes. Se pueden clasificar
dos tipos de factores motivacionales: factores indi-
viduales y comunitarios. Los factores individuales
van desde factores basados en la seguridad has-
ta factores relacionados con la autorrealización,
en línea con el modelo clásico de la teoría de las
necesidades de Maslow (1943). Los factores de
motivación basados en la comunidad van desde
motivaciones directamente relacionadas con la co-
munidad en torno a la comida hasta ideas abstrac-
tas relacionadas con el sistema alimentario.
are identified by the different types of AFNs. Two
types of motivational factors can be classified: in-
dividual and community-based factors. The indivi-
dual factors range from security-based factors to
self-realization-related factors, in line with the clas-
sical model of Maslow’s theory of needs (1943).
The community-based motivational factors range
from motivations directly related to the commu-
nity around food to abstract ideas related to the
food system.
171RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
The different types of alternative food networks (AFNs) challenge and
provide an alternative to the conventional industrial model of the food
supply by enabling redefined linkages between actors and by relocalizing
food production in ecologically sustainable ways (Renting et al., 2003).
Alternative or “place-based” food networks are “newly emerging networks
of producers, consumers, and other actors that embody alternatives to the
more standardized industrial mode of food supply” (Renting et al. 2003,
p. 394). AFNs and their activities translate into actual social and ecological
benefits in the local place of food production.
AFNs include a wide variety of practices. The most widespread forms
are short food supply chains, local branding, farmers’ markets, hobby
farming and box schemes (Kamiyama et al., 2016; Plieninger et al., 2018).
Venn et al. (2006) classify four main categories of AFNs based on the nature
of producer-consumer relationships and involvement. The first category
consists of “special retailers”. Online groceries and specialist wholesalers
belong to this category and sell high value-added or special foods to certain
customer groups. Venn et al. (2006) identify the second category as “direct
sell initiatives”, where farmers and producers sell directly to consumers
either offline or online. Typical examples are farmers’ markets, box schemes,
and producer cooperatives. The other subgroup of “producer-consumer
partnerships” includes community-supported agriculture (CSA), where
producers and consumers form partnerships to share the risks and rewards
of farming. The third category, where producers are also consumers,
describes cases where food is produced and consumed by the same group
of people, as in the case of community gardens: gardeners grow vegetables
themselves for their own consumption, spending time and energy on
production. These kinds of producers can be considered “prosumers”
(Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010). In the current study, four main types of AFNs
are investigated (see Table 1): (1) farmers’ markets (traditional and online)
and zero waste stores (offering natural, sustainably sourced, eco-friendly,
plastic-free alternatives), (2) box schemes (flexible and fixed), (3) CSAs and
(4) community gardens.
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
172RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
Table 1: Alternative food network types investigated in this article
Traditional and online
farmers’ markets and zero
waste stores
Flexible and fixed
box schemes
AFNs are intensively studied in all parts of the world (Renting et al., 2003)
from different perspectives, including the motivation to join. McClintock &
Simpson (2018) combine qualitative and quantitative methods to identify
the motivational frames in the setting of urban agriculture organizations and
businesses in the United States and Canada. They emphasize the importance
of conducting more qualitative research to explore the differences between
intentions and outcomes to obtain geographically specific insights by
investigating other cities and regions in the Global North, Europe or
In the case of Hungary, the first pioneering projects of AFNs, namely, CSA,
emerged in the early 2000s (Balázs et al., 2016), and the first community
gardens appeared in 2012. Although the alternative food network system
is still at an early stage of development in the country (Benedek & Balázs,
2014a), it is important to mention that in general, home-based family
agriculture and food self-provisioning are still strong in Hungary (Balázs
et al., 2016). In the period of the Common Agricultural Policy 2015-2020,
the EU prioritized strengthening the relationship between producers and
consumers, and for this purpose, it created a thematic subprogram for the
short supply chain as an area. The program also plays an important role
among Hungarian rural development programs, and for this opportunity,
to foster implementation, Hungary was provided financial support (Kujáni,
2014). Therefore, as a part of the short supply chain, AFNs are a relevant
topic to analyze in the Hungarian context.
Previous studies conducted in Hungary examined the current situation
and classification of AFN types (Kujáni, 2014; Benedek & Balázs, 2014b),
and primary research related to one type of AFN, such as farmers’ markets
(Benedek & Fertő, 2015; Kerényi & Török, 2019; Szabó & Juhász, 2015),
CSAs (Birtalan et al., 2019) and community gardens (Bende & Nagy, 2016),
has been performed. However, in Hungary, no articles to date have paid
special attention to comparing the motivational factors related to consumer
participation by the different types of AFNs. Nonetheless, regarding farmers’
markets, Benedek & Fertő (2015) investigated farmers’ motivation for
participation. Moreover, Kerényi & Török (2019) and Szabó & Juhász (2015)
conducted research on consumer motivations related to farmers’ markets,
but they did not investigate the other types of AFNs.
Therefore, the current study aims to uncover the motivations and values
that customers hold around the ideas of food related to the different types
Quality. Local. Social. What else? – Which factors motivate...
173RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
of AFNs. The personal experience and motivation of AFN participants can
be related to food choice, the consumption and purchase of food and
participation in this type of short supply chain. The central question of this
paper is as follows: “Which factors motivate consumers to participate in
AFNs in Hungary?”
This article makes novel contributions in three ways. First, this article
is the first in Hungary to investigate all the main types of AFNs in relation
to motivation. Second, the article joins the literature on the differentiation
between individual and community-based motivations. Third, the results
of the interviews related to individual motivators are analyzed under the
framework of Maslow’s theory of needs (Maslow, 1943), using this classical
categorization in a new context for AFNs. The application of the model is in
line with recent literature regarding the measurement and categorization
of food consumption motivations in general (e.g., Van Lenthe et al. 2015;
Satter, 2007; Blades & Tikkanen, 2009; Perianova, 2013).
This article is structured as follows: The first section is concerned with the
analysis of food consumption motivations, including the main types of AFNs
and the well-known theory and model of motivation by Maslow (1943).
Next, the research methodology and findings are discussed. Finally, in the
conclusion, we summarize both the theoretical and empirical contributions
of the article.
The motivations of AFN participants can be related to food choice, the
consumption and purchase of food, and participation in this type of short
supply chain. Food choice is more relevant for farmers’ markets and box
schemes, as the commitment to producers or distributors is only occasional
or weekly. In contrast, participation refers more to CSAs and community
gardens, as the commitment is for a year and contains some formal
Food choice refers to everyday human behavior, but it can be
influenced by many complex factors. Köster (2009) argues that instead
of psychological constructs such as attitudes and intentions, actual
food choices can be better predicted by habits, past behavior, and
hedonic appreciation. Different forms of learning, including imprinting
and conditioning (pre- and perinatal), praise, reward and punishment
(early childhood: parents or others), imitation (childhood and puberty:
parents, peers, idols), cognitive learning (adulthood: advice, labeling,
risk perception) and sensory learning (lifelong: complexity, boredom,
exposure), are involved in food habit formation. Food product choice is
also determined by the complexity of sensory and nonsensory factors
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
174RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
(Eertmans et al., 2001). The latter incorporate, for instance, food-related
health claims, expectations and attitudes, as well as mood, price and
ethical concerns. Moreover, social, cultural and economic factors can
influence dietary patterns. Intraindividual determinants should also be
mentioned, including knowledge, physiological and psychological factors
and acquired preferences, which can be differentiated by interpersonal or
social factors, such as family and group influences (Prescott et al., 2002).
In marketing-related research, food safety or food security seems to play
the most important role in food choice. The concept of food security, which
refers to measurable supply and demand and increases in production,
can be found in many discourses. Hwang’s study (2016) concerns the
most important motivational factors related to the organic food purchase
intention of older consumers. Among meaningful motives, self-presentation
and food safety concerns are the most important. Michaelidou & Hassan’s
(2008) research is about attitude and purchase intention within the context
of organic produce. They also find that food safety is the most important
predictor of attitude. In contrast, health consciousness turns out to be the
least important motive. Furthermore, ethical self-identity has been proven to
affect both attitude and intention to purchase organic produce. Fotopoulos
et al. (2009) include 1000 Greek households in their research. Based on their
findings, the ‘’natural content’’ of foods is the highest among all motives for
Greek consumers. In addition, Greek consumers tend to attach a high level
of importance to almost the same motivational dimensions (for instance,
‘’price’’, ‘’convenience’’, ‘’health’’ and ‘’sensory appeal’’). Additionally, AFN
consumers and urban agriculture practitioners often mention the reduction
in the distance that food needs to travel, also known as food miles (Weber
& Matthews, 2008), from producer to consumer as an important benefit
(McClintock & Simpson, 2018).
It is necessary to mention that there are certain barriers to buying from
and participating in alternative food supply chains. The main barrier may be
related to the perceived higher price and expensiveness of local organic
food, which cause such food to be considered inaccessible to lower-
income groups and to be the preserve of the elite (Seyfang, 2008). The
results of Ares et al. (2017) show a strong influence of income level on the
motives underlying food choice and the barriers to the adoption of healthy
eating. Moreover, there can be other disadvantages related to AFNs, such
as inconvenience related to seasonality, problems with payment (only
cash), relatively small choices and poor quality (Benedek & Balázs, 2014b;
Neulinger et al., 2020; Ostrom, 2007).
AFN participants can be distinguished by their motivation for food
choice and participation. Zoll et al. (2018) define three different types of AFN
participants based on qualitative research conducted in Germany. Their first
Quality. Local. Social. What else? – Which factors motivate...
175RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
category of consumers consists of lifestyle-oriented pragmatists, who focus
on their own well-being, the quality of food and health-related outcomes.
Second, community-oriented conscious consumers are identified; such
consumers tend to emphasize shared risks and solidarity with farmers. The
third category is composed of convinced practitioners, who have a high
degree of awareness of social-environmental problems and are committed
to a sustainable lifestyle.
The different types of motivations can also be investigated by AFN
types. In the case of farmers’ markets, Feagan & Morris (2009) identify
the following main food-related concerns in Canada: health (43% of
respondents), community (41%), and the environment (41%). Kerényi
& Török (2019) examine farmers’ markets in Hungary, and their results
are almost entirely in line with international trends. Consumers identify
supporting local economies as the most important motivation: Although
shopping is not cheaper, they say that the price premium is in good hands
and raises the income level of local producers. They also emphasize the
reliability and quality of products and the fact that they think that products
purchased locally are more environmentally friendly. In another study
carried out in Hungary, consumers mention the freshness, reliable origin,
appropriate price of produces and a wide range of goods as the most
important factors for purchase (Szabó & Juhász, 2015). Seyfang (2008)
examines consumer purchasing motivations related to a local producer
cooperative based in East Anglia called Eostre. It consists of nine local
organic growers who sell their produces through farmers’ markets and box
schemes. The most important issues for consumers are the environment
(94%) and the reduction in packaging waste (85%) and food miles (84%),
but they also mention aspects related to localism, such as the importance
of supporting local farmers (84%) and cooperative businesses (70%),
keeping money in the local economy (65%) and preserving local heritage
and traditions (36%). In addition, it is important for consumers to know
where their food comes from and how it was produced (76%); 77% claim
that organic food is safer, and face-to-face contact with growers (25%) is
also highlighted. Finally, 80% of consumers claim that organic food tastes
better and is more nutritious than products from a supermarket. Ostrom’s
(2007) research shows the following top motivations for joining a CSA:
obtaining fresh, nutritious produce; buying local produce; supporting
small-scale farmers; obtaining a source of organic produce; and caring
for the environment. Lang (2010) identifies that the most important factors
underlying people’s membership in CSAs are obtaining locally grown
(86%) and organic (84%) produce, supporting local farmers (78%) and
environmental reasons (73%). In their qualitative research in Hungary,
Birtalan et al. (2019) identify five different factors for joining CSAs: (1) active
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
176RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
action for themselves (an internal driving force to control health, focus
on socioecological principles and the presence of factors that facilitate
connection); (2) the influence of specific life and household management;
(3) active leisure time (learning and source of joy); (4) self-reflection-
projection (identity) and (5) spiritual factors (spirituality, including
mental and physical health, connection to nature). Community garden
participants claim to have several different motivations: consuming fresh
foods, community building, culture exchange, improving health among
members, making or saving money by consuming from the community
garden or selling the food produced, enjoying nature, environmental
sustainability and enhancing spiritual practice (Guitart et al., 2012; Venn et
al., 2006). Spilkovás (2017) research shows a slightly different pattern, as
the main motivational factor turns out to be community, followed by self-
realization and healthy and quality food, which have the same weights.
Bende & Nagy (2016) find that in Hungary, community gardeners aim to
live a rural-like life in cities and to belong to a community.
On the one hand, studies applying a quantitative approach (e.g.,
Fotopoulos et al., 2009) favor the use of scales, for example, the Food
Choice Questionnaire originally developed by Steptoe et al. (1995). Nine
motivational dimensions are distinguished that address general food
selection determinants: 1. ‘‘health’’, 2. ‘‘mood’’, 3. ‘‘convenience’’, 4. ‘‘sensory
appeal’’, 5. ‘‘natural content’’, 6. ‘‘price’’, 7. ‘‘weight control’’, 8.‘‘familiarity’’,
and 9. ‘‘ethical concern’’.
On the other hand, in qualitative research approaches to food
consumption motivations, one popular theoretical perspective is Maslow’s
(1943) theory of needs (e.g., Van Lenthe et al. 2015; Satter, 2007; Blades &
Tikkanen, 2009; Perianova, 2013). It seems useful to apply Maslow’s concept
to food selection and acquisition (Satter, 2007), as it is a tool for determining
essential human motivations and needs. Moreover, Maslow’s motivators
may be matched to food choice motivators (Perianova, 2013).
Maslow’s original model states that people are motivated by unmet
needs, which are in a hierarchical order. Unless all lower-level needs have
been met, people cannot be motivated based on the next need area. This
statement was later altered by Maslow (1987, p. 68), who concluded that
the order in the hierarchy “is not nearly as rigid” as he suggested before.
Maslow’s theory of needs introduces five major areas: physiological needs
(air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, reproduction), safety needs
(personal security, employment, resources, health, property), love and
belonging (friendship, intimacy, sense of connection), esteem (respect, self-
Quality. Local. Social. What else? – Which factors motivate...
177RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
esteem, status, recognition, strength, freedom), and self-actualization (the
desire to become the most that one can be) (Maslow, 1943). According to
Van Lenthe et al. (2015), if individuals have higher levels of education or
income, they already satisfy more basic needs; thus, they end up higher
in the hierarchy. Moreover, at higher levels, people tend to have a higher
interest in making healthy food choices instead of only satisfying the need
to consume sufficient energy. However, such choices become prioritized
only when other needs are already satisfied. The same holds for people who
are surrounded by an abundance of unhealthy food alternatives. In this case,
making healthy food choices can be seen as a need to reach self-fulfillment.
Recent books and studies present exciting results from the perspective
of Maslow’s model in the domain of food choice motivation. Perianova’s
(2013) book uses Maslow’s theory of needs to present how food may
satisfy an entire range of needs. Food not only provides a solution to the
physiological needs of sustenance but also can make people feel safe and
secure and strengthen their social and cultural identity. Moreover, the author
states that food can affect acceptance, esteem, bonding, affiliation, and self-
actualization as well. It is important to mention that in line with Maslow’s
later modification regarding the specific attributes of the hierarchy, food
might satisfy both higher- and lower-level needs, and it may be present
across the whole range of motivators. As part of their study, Van Lenthe et al.
(2015) investigate the priorities of healthy food choices of socioeconomic
groups among older adults in the Netherlands who have different material,
living, working and social circumstances by testing whether Maslow’s
pyramid of needs is a useful framework. They find that healthier food
choices, including a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables as well
as more healthy than unhealthy bread, snack and dairy consumption, are
related to the higher levels of the hierarchy of Maslow’s pyramid of needs,
not only the physiological needs of sustenance. Satter (2007) also applies
Maslow’s concept of food selection and acquisition. Satter’s hierarchy of
food needs consists of different hierarchical levels, from the experience of
food insecurity at the lowest level as physiological needs, named “enough
food”, to the highest state as self-actualization, called “instrumental food”. In
the latter category, people consider choosing food for instrumental reasons
to achieve a desired physical, cognitive, or spiritual outcome. In line with
the model of Maslow (1943), the motivators—needs—at each level define the
food management behavior at that level.
The current study is exploratory qualitative research that aims to
understand the mechanism, features, and characteristics of AFNs in Hungary.
Twenty-three in-depth interviews were conducted between July and
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
178RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
December 2018 in Hungary, mainly in the capital, Budapest, and surrounding
towns. The interviewees were selected based on their participation in the four
main types of AFNs and the level of experience of the members, meaning
new members (maximum 1 year in the network) and experienced members
(minimum 3 years in the network) (see Table 2). Eight interviews were with
community garden users, 11 interviews were conducted with members of
CSAs, 4 interviews were conducted with members of box schemes, and 5
respondents associated with farmers’ markets and zero waste stores were
interviewees having multiple experiences with another type of AFN (box
schemes, CSAs or community gardens). The community gardens indicated
in the current research are located in Budapest. These gardens consist of 30
to 80 individual parcels that are cultivated mainly by families. The CSAs in the
current study are located in the countryside but with delivery to Budapest.
There are between 13 and 50 participants in these networks. The box schemes
mentioned in this study serve as hubs and have delivery points in Budapest.
Farmers’ markets remarked in the study are mainly located in Budapest.
The interview guideline included an introduction section, lifestyle and
shopping habits, AFN participation and the motivation for joining, passion
and problems related to the AFN, and demographic questions. For the data
analysis of the transcribed in-depth interviews, qualitative content analysis
(QCA) was used (Zhang & Wildemuth, 2009). A combination of inductive
and deductive codings was applied (Berg, 2001; Patton, 2002). Initial coding
followed an inductive logic, and all motivators were collected from the
interviews, with the type of AFN always being marked in parentheses. In this
way, categories emerged through the researchers’ careful examination and
continuous comparison. Second, the categories were reviewed, compared
and modified based on the existing theoretical constructs (deductive phase
Table 2: Sample – interviews based on the different types of AFNs
Type of AFN Number
of AFNs Commitment Experience Number of
Traditional and online
farmers’ markets and
zero waste stores
3 Occasional Experienced 5
Flexible and fixed box
schemes 2 Weekly New member 2
Experienced 2
agriculture 3 Yearly New member 5
Experienced 6
Community gardens 3 Yearly New member 2
Experienced 6
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179RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
of coding). The analytical procedures and interpretations were based on the
guidelines of Zhang & Wildemuth (2009).
The final subcategories from the analysis were divided into individual
and community-related motives by AFN types (see Table 3). It is important
to mention that motivations can be present in different categories at the
same time. However, in Table 3, the most important categories mentioned
by the participants are indicated. In the case of farmers’ markets, the most
important motivational factors were easy access to quality, healthy and safe
local food (individual motivation) and personal relationships with farmers
and sellers (community-based motivation). Participants in box schemes and
community-supported agriculture considered having quality, safety and
healthy local food (individual motivation) and supporting local economies
by supporting local farmers (community-based motivation) to be the
most meaningful motivations. The most important motivational factors for
members of community gardens were self-fulfillment (individual motivation)
and sustainability (community-based motivation).
Farmers’ markets
The dominant individual motivational factor among participants in
farmers’ markets was easy access to quality, healthy and safe local food
while supporting local economies, preferably in a sustainable way (zero
waste stores, short supply chains). For example, “I go to the farmers’ market
on Saturday early morning when the family is still sleeping, as I can buy
most of the things there. This aspect is closely related to the quality and
health factor, which was mentioned more times than easy access in other
studies (Feagan & Morris, 2009; Szabó & Juhász, 2015). The most relevant
community-related motivator was personal relationships with farmers and
sellers, the formation of interpersonal ties within the producer-consumer
partnerships and strengthening solidarity, trust and participation: “When I
go to the market and package-free shops, I enjoy chatting with the sellers”,
and “I love to join producers at the market, and I want to support these local
producers. However, this aspect also shows a very close relationship with
supporting local economies, which tends to be a more dominant factor in
the previous literature (Kerényi & Török, 2019; Feagan & Morris, 2009).
Box schemes and CSAs
Having quality, safe and healthy local food was a dominant individual
motivational factor among most of the participants, especially those who
participate in short supply chains such as box schemes and CSAs. Other
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indicators that the participators mentioned were “bio, organic, fresh, tasty
food, without chemicals, the source of which is known, giving healthy food
to children, and having a diet due to diseases (for instance, autoimmune
illness): “My motivation for joining was curiosity, and I was seeking quality and
bio goods. Another participant stated that “I am environmentally conscious.
I prefer organic food and other locally produced products. Besides, I like to
know where the products come from. This is my main motivation, and it is
especially important for me since my child was born. In the case of fixed
box schemes and CSAs, creativity was also mentioned as an advantage:
I need to learn to ‘deal’ with all sorts of vegetables and discover ways to
cook them. I think it is a combination of experience doing it and enjoying
doing it and knowing that it’s a good thing to do. Motivation can be harmed
by negative effects and inconvenience related to orders and deliveries: “I
would be happy if there would be more options for deliveries during the
week or if they would have a pick-up point closer to me. Furthermore, I
don’t like keeping the empty boxes at home until the next delivery when the
courier finally takes them away. Another interviewee commented,I don’t
like the rule that we need to do online ordering before Tuesday 8:00 am. It is
very difficult for me due to my busy life. The main community-related factor
was supporting local economies by supporting local farmers and being a
patron: “I like to know where my money goes. I know the founders of the bio
village called ‘Biofalu’, and we became friends, and I fully trust them. Others
mentioned the following: “I am price conscious, and I prefer local products;
besides, I would like to support locally grown products, and “I would like to
support sustainable production and the community. These findings were in
line with the previous literature (Seyfang 2008; Ostrom, 2007; Lang, 2010;
Birtalan et al., 2019).
Table 3: Motivators by alternative food network types
and online),
zero waste
Box schemes Community
Flexible Fixed
for joining
Easy access
to quality
and local
Quality/safety of the food
with nature)
with the
Support local economies Sustainability
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181RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187
Community gardens
For community gardens, the main individual motivation was self-
fulfillment. Gardening was stated to improve quality of life; it can ensure
reconnection and interaction with nature and provide a better life and
meaningful work. It becomes a creative hobby, where people can learn
something new and take an active role in production and consumption.
This activity ensures empowerment by gaining control, leading to personal
growth and spiritual well-being: “I love the experience of producing food
for myself. Gardening can provide relief from stress as well: “Connecting
to nature, it gives a regenerative feeling, and “I love digging the earth. I
don’t realize how time passes by. Farming activity often serves as a nostalgic
hobby for members since many community gardeners are originally from
the countryside or their parents lived in the countryside and practiced
agricultural activities. This is similar to the case of some elderly gardeners
who moved to the city from the suburbs after retiring and who had previously
cultivated a kitchen garden. The main community-based motivational factor
is closely related to sustainability. Community garden participants stated
that taking care of biodiversity, creating an alternative economy, and being
ecological (e.g., reducing the ecological footprint, reducing waste, urban
greening, reducing energy usage, having a sustainable food supply) are
the main aspects of their participation. The interviewees mentioned that
belonging to a community is important; nevertheless, it is usually not the
primary incentive for joining but rather an experience that grows while
being a member of the garden. This remark also suggests that motivations
are not fixed; they might change over time; thus, temporality can have an
important role.I became conscious of the social and the environmental
impacts of the agricultural style, and I wanted to participate in creating an
alternative and do something beyond just changing shopping habits. These
findings were also in line with the literature (Guitart et al., 2012; Venn et al.,
2006; Spilková, 2017; Bende & Nagy, 2016).
The individual factors tend to show an arc from security-based factors to
self-realization, which is in line with the classical model of Maslow’s hierarchy
of needs (1943) (see Table 4). However, in parallel with Maslow’s later
modification of the hierarchy, the lower-level needs do not necessarily need
to be met, and people can be motivated based on the next need area. In
addition, food might satisfy both higher- and lower-level needs, and it may be
present across the whole range of motivators: “I was looking for healthy food,
especially for the children, so I joined a CSA, and I get to order from there every
second week. Besides, I go shopping every Saturday at the farmers’ market”.
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
182RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
From the same perspective, another CSA participant stated,I also go to the
market, which I like as well, where I always search for the small farmers’ section”.
First, as consumers have basic physiological needs (food) and buy in a
place that they know and can easily access quality food, they tend to start
shopping at farmers’ markets and zero waste stores. If they are sensitive
to the topic of AFNs and they become informed about alternative ways,
then they might start ordering box schemes: “I always loved shopping at
farmers’ markets, but 3 months ago, I joined Kiskosár community shopping
in Esztergom and order boxes every second week. I would like to support the
local community. For them, the most important motivations are physiological
needs (food) and security (safe, healthy local food with an identifiable place
of origin). If these needs are met, they might then move to the importance
of belonging somewhere and having a higher degree of commitment by
making a contract with suppliers and engaging in CSA: “I was a bio shopper
first. I was open to these ideologies as vegetarian, vegan approaches and
reform eating. Consciousness is important to me. First, I heard about CSAs,
and I Googled them and joined programs as a consumer. In this way, they
connect with people and might gain status and admiration from others due
to their higher commitment and support for local economies. The final stage
mentioned by the interviewees consists of joining community gardens,
which is strongly related to self-realization and personal balance. Since it is
a time-consuming and place-based activity, it is not an option for everyone,
and it highly depends on the available time and the lifestyle of people: “I
am now an observer of the alternative food networks by ordering boxes, but
I am looking forward to being a participant when I am able to take that step”.
Based on the sample, young mothers and retired people tend to participate
more frequently in community gardens.
Table 4: Individual motivational factors based on commitment,
parallel with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943)
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Community-based motivational factors range from motivations directly
related to the community to abstract ideas. These motivational elements
are learned by the participants by interacting with the environment, and
they show a constant development regarding commitment and a deeper
understanding of the existing types of AFNs (ranging from farmers’ markets
to community gardens).
First, most commonly, AFN consumers start shopping at farmers’
markets and zero waste stores and then enter the stage of ordering box
schemes (the same pattern as in the individual-based motivators). At this
stage, the most important motivation is the personal relationship with the
producer, and then, supporting local economies becomes more of a focus.
Finally, related to high commitment and mainly participation in community
gardens, sustainability is more important to gardeners. Thus, we can
distinguish a learning phase from community-based, simple basic needs
such as relationships and support to abstract ideas that influence the whole
society: “I heard about the CSA called Birs from friends, and it was just at the
right time because I was looking for options for how to produce less waste”.
However, it should be emphasized again that all motivational types are
present in each state but to different extents.
The current study aimed to explore the main motivational factors by the
four different alternative food network types in the Hungarian market; this
topic has not previously been researched in such depth and variation. A
new classification was applied to the presentation of the results: individual
and community-related motivators were separated. Based on the results, we
can distinguish 6 different motivational factors: in farmers’ markets or zero
waste stores, access to quality food was the most dominant individual factor,
while with regard to community-related motivations, personal relationships
with farmers turned out to be the most important. Box schemes and CSAs
showed similar patterns: Undoubtedly, the quality and healthiness of food
was the most important individual factor, while supporting local economies
was the most important community-related factor. Finally, at the individual
level, gardening in community gardens fosters self-fulfillment, and
participants belonging to the community may also aspire to carry out some
sort of work in the name of sustainability.
The new classifications help to capture additional patterns. The results
confirm that food itself can satisfy an entire range of needs, as it can not
only meet the physiological needs of sustenance but can also have an
influence on how people feel; additionally, it can strengthen social and
cultural identity and improve self-esteem and self-actualization (Perianova,
Anna Torok · Ágnes Neulinger · György Pataki · Fanni Bársony · Orsolya Lazányi
184RIESISE, 3 (2020) pp. 169-187 ISSN: 2659-5311
2013). During the close examination of the individual factors, we can
distinguish a hierarchy related to the different types of AFNs and the
commitment to them. Parallels can be drawn between this concept and
Maslow’s theory of needs (Maslow, 1943). This study applies Maslow’s
theory for the first time to AFNs: farmers’ markets and zero waste stores
incorporate the level of physiological and safety needs, while we can move
towards belonging and esteem when participating in CSAs and reach self-
actualization when gardening in community gardens. However, as food
might satisfy both higher- and lower-level needs at the same time, a whole
range of motivations may be present at the same time. New patterns can
be found regarding community-based motivators as well. The new concept
demonstrates a new relationship between different motivators and
alternative food network types. With low commitment (farmers’ markets),
motivation is directly linked to the community and moves towards higher
commitment to embrace abstract, comprehensive goals related to society
(CSAs, community gardens).
The results are in line with the motivational factors seen in the international
and Hungarian literature (e.g., Venn et al., 2006; Feagan & Morris, 2009;
Seyfang, 2008; Lang, 2010; Spilková, 2017; Birtalan et al., 2019; Szabó &
Juhász, 2015), although the importance of each factor changes in some
cases. The most significant difference was related to farmers’ markets.
However, it is still necessary to better understand the motivational
factors of producers as well to have a complete picture of AFN participants.
In addition, it would be useful to conduct further interviews with those
who buy only at farmers’ markets and zero waste stores (and who do not
take part in other AFNs at the same time) and to carry out a cross-cultural
comparison. As motivations are not fixed and might change over time, future
research should pay special attention to temporality. To further investigate
this issue, interviews should be analyzed based on the classification of the
interviewees, for example, whether they are new (maximum one year in the
network) or experienced (minimum three years in the network) members.
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