Agroecology is grounded in principles that support transitions toward economic, social and ecological sustainability and proposes that real and lasting change will require a significant transformation of our agri-food systems. Evidence for agroecology’s potential continues to grow, both through word of mouth by farmers and social movements, and through recent scientific assessments of its performance. With endorsements from the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), national governments in both the global north and south, and social movements, it is developing the web of ‘thick legitimacy’ required for even broader adoption (Montenegro de Wit & Iles, 2016). “...Agroecology represents a system that works with nature instead of against it and offers an approach to food production that boosts biodiversity, creates ecological resilience, improves soils, cools the planet and reduces energy and resource use. It has been shown to be highly productive, to provide highly diverse dietary offerings and to support the process of community building and women’s empowerment” (Anderson et al., 2020, p. 3). However, agroecology is an approach that is not yet recognized as being actively practiced in Vermont and the USA, despite its significant potential for supporting transitions to sustainable food systems in different contexts.
The University of Vermont is home to researchers and practitioners at the forefront of agroecological research and learning. The objectives of this white paper are to demonstrate the importance of agroecology for the future of sustainable food systems in Vermont, and as a framework to assess and advance transformations towards sustainability. In this paper we will: a) Demonstrate the global evidence base for agroecology and the potential of agroecology in the United States, and Vermont. b) Present the case for an agroecological principles-based approach to assess food and farming sustainability which can capture the multifunctional dynamics and benefits of agroecology to economic, social and ecological sustainability. c) Present examples based on our newly developed Agroecological Assessment for Sustainability framework to existing initiatives in Vermont that represent constituencies across a range of farm types and scales. d) Demonstrate the importance of participatory and transdisciplinary approaches for research
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Caswell, Martha; Maden, Rebecca; McCune, Nils; Mendez, V. Ernesto; Bucini, Gabriela; Anderzen, Janica; Izzo, Victor; Hurley, Stephanie E.; Gould, Rachelle K.; Faulkner, Joshua W.; and Juncos-Gautier, Maria A., "Amplifying Agroecology in Vermont: Principles and Processes to Foster Food Systems Sustainability" (2021). USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Center. 4.