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Building resilience through post-productivism : the case of farmers' markets

Glendinning, Emma Louise 2012. Building resilience through post-productivism : the case of farmers' markets. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The UK’s agricultural system has been subject to many crises and challenges. In the 1980s this prompted new agricultural policies seeking to diversify agricultural production and farming livelihoods. A number of diversification pathways have been opened to farmers, one of these being ‘alternative’ food networks. Whilst this diversification of agriculture and thus farming incomes has been suggested to provide a more resilient agricultural system, there appears limited understanding of the dynamics not just of the system but within the system. Through taking an ethnographic approach this research project therefore seeks to uncover the development of resilience of those within the system whilst simultaneously seeking to understand how this affects the resilience of the market system as a whole. In order to gain a detailed insight into a farmers’ market community a case study research strategy was taken. Data was gathered through active participation in the market community at Garrington farmers’ market in west Wales. Through working with different stallholders at the market for one year, the interactions, tensions and complexities of the community were witnessed and explored. Twenty five further days were spent with farmers and producers, away from the market, at their place of production. Ethnographic interviews were carried out whilst working alongside producers providing a deep and rich understanding of each producer, their production ethos and what the farmers’ market provided to them. The research explores how farmers and producers react to differing challenges, both environmental and economic. It demonstrates their vulnerability to these and the limitations to their individual adaptive capacities. Further, it explores the possibility of farmers’ markets to provide a community of practice and a community of coping for producers, yet the lack of realisation of this potential. Within this the tensions of the farmers’ market definition are recognised; the expectations held by differing producers explored and the challenge of standardising an ‘alternative’ food network examined. This research argues that the social networks of farmers’ markets have the potential to offer vital contact to others to aid innovation and learning. However, this potential is seemingly diminished when issues of trust, power and hierarchy are introduced through producer expectations. Here then the suggestion is made that if such social networks are to fulfil their potential they must balance diversity with specialisation, competition with co-operation and innovation with stability. This could be achieved through formulating standards, standards that are flexible, able to be locally interpreted and made applicable to each local context. Such suggestions require good governance but through their implementation could help develop the resilience of both individuals within a system along with the system as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Uncontrolled Keywords: farmers’ markets ; alternative food networks ; resilience ; community of practice ; community of coping
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:05

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