Care and relationality in Vermont and New Hampshire agri-food systems

Authors: Alexandra Sclafani*, Dartmouth College
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Geographic Thought, Qualitative Research
Keywords: agri-food systems, ontologies of social and ecological care, relationality, gleaning and food redistribution, organic certification
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Crucial to a holistic understanding of agri-food systems is that social and ecological components are iteratively and mutually dependent. In this paper, I argue that within the context of small scale farming, applying a feminist understanding of care serves to reveal farmers' complex ethos and obligations underlying agri-food system relations, both human and nonhuman. In this, I contend that care ethics highlights everyday disruptions to the neoliberal logic embedded in contemporary agricultural systems and politics. Care also offers a way to consider non-market transactions, or reciprocity, with food distribution networks. These concrete forms of maintenance are the ground upon which caring relations are dynamically formulated. Drawing on ethnographic data collected in Vermont and New Hampshire, this paper explores the ways in which farmers come to "care" - about the environment and about food access - and how this informs on- and off-farm decision making within the local agri-food system. Specifically, the paper examines networks of crop gleaning and redistribution that are situated outside of conventional market "value," positing this type of care as a disruption to neoliberal expectations.

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