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Rural development

Article: Working Toward Sustainable Food Production in the Netherlands and Spain | DERREG

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Published Articles / Book Chapters

Paul Swagemakers, M. Dolores Domínguez García, Xavier Simón Fernández, and Johannes S. C. Wiskerke (2012): ‘Unfolding Farm Practices: Working Toward Sustainable Food Production in the Netherlands and Spain’, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 2(2) pp. 129–145 http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.022.001

Abstract

The modernization of agriculture has caused and continues to cause an increasing disconnection between farming, nature, and society, which has also created a series of social, economic, and ecological crises in the food chain. Case study research of farmers responding to this situation can show us what changes are required to encourage a reconnection between farming, nature, and society. This paper provides ethnographic case study research of two farms: one situated in a productive polder in the Netherlands, and the other in a disadvantaged mountainous area in Galicia, Spain. They both employ « novelty production, » farmer-driven adaptations to the farm, seen as a socio-ecological system. These novelties change the input-output relations on farms and result in adaptations in different farming domains (technical, economic, and socio-organizational), which we see as « unfolding » farming practices. This paper examines how these farmers have sustained and improved the socio-ecological performance of their farms and how these changes have led to a shift in the farm as a socio-ecological system and changed the configuration and boundaries of the farms. In conclusion we look at prospects for this approach being supported at a wider level.