Farmer networks and the nature of change in the Northeastern US

Authors: Alissa White*, University of Vermont, Joshua Faulkner, University of Vermont Extension
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Soils
Keywords: agroecology, innovation, climate change, adaptation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the role of farmers networks in building the adaptive capacity of small and diversified farmers in the Northeastern US. Previous research suggests that farmers’ networks are the backbone of practical agricultural knowledge systems in the US, serving as a critical venue where growers exchange and negotiate new ideas. Drawing upon empirical evidence from a regional survey on climate resilience and a series of focus groups conducted in collaboration with nine farmer organizations from Pennsylvania to Eastern Canadian provinces, this paper examines how the emergence of new ideas and agroecological innovations are influenced by geography, network affiliation and perceived agency. First, the participatory approach used in this research highlights the importance of strategic problem-structuring as critical to successful problem-solving and communication about climate change. Second, the paper discusses the implications of climate change on agroecosystem management in this region. Third, multiple theories of change in agriculture communities are applied to the dataset to illuminate the factors that influence the emergence of innovative ideas for adaptive agroecosystem management in the region. This research offers a Farmer’s First perspective on how agricultural communities change in the face of climate change and what resources they need to successfully adapt to a changing world.

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