Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Ernesto Méndez

Project Collaborators

Sarah Heiss (Collaborating Mentor)

Graduate Student Mentors

Kerry Daigle

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Program/Major

Plant and Soil Science

Second College (optional)

Graduate College

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

Secondary Research Category

Food & Environment Studies

Presentation Title

Gender and alternative agriculture: Exploring determinants of resilience amongst women farmers in northern New England

Time

10:20 AM

Location

Chittenden Bank Room

Abstract

In the 21st Century, agriculture faces unprecedented threats. Warnings related to climate change and declining biodiversity are accompanied by a growing awareness of the ways that conventional, industrial agriculture has contributed to these crises. In response, we are seeing a rise in the prevalence of alternative agricultural practices and paradigms. Operating outside the norms of conventional agriculture, many farmers practicing alternative agriculture rely on communities of practice or farmer communication networks for education and technical support. This emphasis on community is one factor believed to contribute to the high rate of women farmers participating in alternative agriculture. However, research indicates that women farmers may have different needs related to communication, education, and general support than do their male counterparts. This begs the questions of whether and how women farmers are accessing communities and networks focused on alternative agriculture.

To that end, this research project aims to explore (i) whether women farmers in northern New England self-identify as practicing alternative agriculture, (ii) whether alternative agricultural practices influence women farmers’ decision to access farmer networks or communities of practice, and (iii) how this access (or lack thereof) impacts women farmers’ resilience. This presentation provides initial results of research conducted with women farmers in northern New England, which has some of the highest densities of women farmers in the U.S. Results are based on thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This study aims to identify and address gaps in the academic literature regarding the nexus of farmer support networks, alternative agricultural practices, and the resilience experiences of women farmers.

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Gender and alternative agriculture: Exploring determinants of resilience amongst women farmers in northern New England

In the 21st Century, agriculture faces unprecedented threats. Warnings related to climate change and declining biodiversity are accompanied by a growing awareness of the ways that conventional, industrial agriculture has contributed to these crises. In response, we are seeing a rise in the prevalence of alternative agricultural practices and paradigms. Operating outside the norms of conventional agriculture, many farmers practicing alternative agriculture rely on communities of practice or farmer communication networks for education and technical support. This emphasis on community is one factor believed to contribute to the high rate of women farmers participating in alternative agriculture. However, research indicates that women farmers may have different needs related to communication, education, and general support than do their male counterparts. This begs the questions of whether and how women farmers are accessing communities and networks focused on alternative agriculture.

To that end, this research project aims to explore (i) whether women farmers in northern New England self-identify as practicing alternative agriculture, (ii) whether alternative agricultural practices influence women farmers’ decision to access farmer networks or communities of practice, and (iii) how this access (or lack thereof) impacts women farmers’ resilience. This presentation provides initial results of research conducted with women farmers in northern New England, which has some of the highest densities of women farmers in the U.S. Results are based on thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This study aims to identify and address gaps in the academic literature regarding the nexus of farmer support networks, alternative agricultural practices, and the resilience experiences of women farmers.