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Urban political ecologies of the apple: practices of corporate-led and community-led trade in the London city region

Nicol, Poppy 2021. Urban political ecologies of the apple: practices of corporate-led and community-led trade in the London city region. Local Environment 26 (4) , pp. 397-410. 10.1080/13549839.2021.1891031
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This article investigates the urban political ecologies of the apple in London city region. As one of the largest cities in Europe, London is a pertinent site to explore the challenges and possibilities of future food systems. The apple is used as a lens to explore the diverging urban political ecologies of corporate-led and community-led food systems. A mixed method qualitative research approach combines a series of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders involved in producing, distributing and trading apples with practice-based ethnographic fieldwork, responding to calls within urban political ecology for more situated and grounded approaches that build new understandings of socio-environmental practices. Research shows diverging practices and biophysical properties of the apple amongst producers supplying multiple retailers and those operating via a community-led trading mechanism, which includes a farmers’ market and fruit and veg box scheme. Fieldwork suggests apple production for multiple retailers is retail-led, placing increasing pressures upon producers. Biophysical properties of the corporate-led apple are becoming increasingly standardised; narrow in terms of varietal range, and; privatised, via the rise of club brand apples. In contrast, fieldwork suggests community-led trade is based upon producer-led, agroecological approaches to production, distribution and trade. Biophysical properties of the community-led apple are context-dependent and diverse in terms of varietal range, quality and size. Community-led trading is identified as a mechanism for scaling agroecology through cultivating community social and ecological relations and producer-led approaches. To become more than marginal, agroecology and community-led trade require enabling policy, planning and legislative frameworks.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1354-9839
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 February 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 February 2021
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 01:44

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