Agroecology Now! 2 - Rooting for the Underdog

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Rural Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Organizers: Colin Anderson, Michael Jahi Chappell, Jessica Milgroom
Chairs: Michael Jahi Chappell


AgroecologyNow 2 – Rooting for the Underdog
In Transitions-Transformations for a More Just and Sustainable Food System

The papers in this session all examine agroecological practices and movements that are being developed under difficult circumstances. In these papers, as with many cases, agroecology presents itself as an ‘underdog’ operating within a range of challenges that arise from the dominant social, economic, political, and geographical structures, cultures and systems that entrench unjust and unsustainable food systems. Each of these papers contributes insight into whether and how agroecological movements and actors can transform entrenched structural barriers. Indeed, these papers show how agroecology can still thrive despite difficult circumstances.

The papers include: 1) A case study of how underresourced farmer-agroecologists in Australia are fighting the tides of mainstream agriculture policy (Iles); 2) the growth of agroecology in Sikkim - a mountainous region on the political and geographic margins of India (Meek); 3) urban agroecology initiatives working to feed low income people in the East Bay, USA (Siegner, Sowerwine, and Acey); 4) An analysis of the challenges faced by sustainable agriculture practitioners in the context of a policy climate in the USA dominated by Big Ag (Carlisle, DeLonge and Montenegro).

All of these "cases" represent uphill battles and underdog characters in some way, and yet maybe these struggles are exactly where the roots of a transformative, scalable, agroeoclogical food system will manifest – that is: strength and growth come through continuous effort and struggle. The papers are all dealing with “roses in the concrete” or what is often referred to as 'niches' in the language of transitions discourse. How can this experimentation happening within localized niches thrive within a larger existing/dominant agrarian regime? How can these niches instigate powerful, wider, systematic change: The papers address the question of: What are the conditions that can enable the underdog to take root, grow and propagate – ultimately transforming food and societal systems at wider scales? Join us in debating these and other questions after the paper presentations in a discussion led by Annie Shattuck.

This session is a part of a series of AgroecologyNow! sessions that examine different aspects of transitions and transformations in food systems through agroecology. Using a range of theoretical frameworks and drawing on case studies in different regions and contexts, papers in this session will unpack the processes that are variously referred to as amplification, massification, scaling up, scaling out, scaling deep, transitions or transformations for agroecology.

The Agroecology Now! sessions are jointly convened by researchers at the Center for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) and the Agroecology Research-Action Collective (ARC). CAWR is driving innovative, transdisciplinary research on the understanding and development of resilient food and water systems internationally, with research and graduate programs spanning many approaches and disciplines. CAWR awards PhDs and an MSc in Agroecology, Water and Food Sovereignty. Visit for more information.

The ARC is a North American group of scholar-activists and activist-scholars working on issues of farm justice, food justice, food sovereignty, and agroecology. As engaged scholars, ARC commits to organizing the scholarly community to prioritize movement-relevant and partnership-based research, elevate the scientific validity and worth of knowledge created outside the academy, provide asked-for social movement support, and pursue advocacy to effect positive change.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Alastair Iles*, , Can Australia transition to an agroecological future? 20 9:55 AM
Presenter David Meek*, University of Oregon, Agroecological Transitions and the Politics of Scale in Sikkim, India 20 10:15 AM
Presenter Alana Siegner*, , Jennifer Sowerwine, University of California, Berkeley, Cooperative Extension, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Charisma Acey, University of California, Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning, Producing Urban Agroecology in the East Bay: From Soil Health to Community Empowerment 20 10:35 AM
Discussant Annie Shattuck University of California - Berkeley 20 10:55 AM

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