Transforming Agricultural Learning: from troubled pasts to pedagogies of hope

Session Conveners
Hannah Pitt (PittH2@cardiff.ac.uk)
Alice Taherzadeh (TaherzadehA@cardiff.ac.uk)
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University.

Any hope of sustainable food futures requires suitable systems of education and training to support agricultural production. Traditional state-led agricultural extension has received declining public investment, and been criticised for failing to address the needs of sustainable, alternative, localised agricultural practices. The agricultural knowledge base in Europe is also troubled by an aging farmer population, and lack of new entrants. However, community food and farming models, organisations, and unions are attracting a new generation interested in sustainable production, and enhancing their knowledge through horizontal or place-based learning. Innovative pedagogical approaches include popular and political education, those inspired by indigenous cultures, use of online platforms and open-source knowledge models. These sessions focus on actors hoping for sustainable, just, regenerative agricultural practices, and their learning practices. We are interested in case studies and theoretical perspectives which shed light on the challenges around learning in the context of agricultural production, and potential solutions.

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Cultivating hope while getting into trouble with Community Food Initiatives

Session Convenors: 
Esther Veen (esther.veen@wur.nl)
Oona Morrow (oona.morrow@wur.nl),
Stefan Wahlen (stefan.wahlen@wur.nl)
Anke de Vrieze (anke.devrieze@wur.nl)

Community food initiatives (CFIs), such as community gardens or food waste initiatives, are often framed as hopeful solutions to our troubled food system. Yet the actual interrelations of hope and trouble are rarely interrogated in locally specific contexts. Hope and trouble are often employed in partial and limiting ways. CFIs are critiqued for being too hopeful, reproducing existing troubles (e.g. racism, power, privilege, and exclusion). Other readings strategically avoid the dominance of trouble, to leave space for hope and possibility. Neither approach is sufficient. Moreover, binary effects of hope and trouble can create methodological tensions that affect our own abilities to engage in action research that is both critical and reparative, hopeful and troubling.

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Hopeful Governance for Good Rural Food Economies and Environments

Conveners
Eifiona Thomas Lane, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University
Lois Mansfield, Department of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies, University of Cumbria
Rebecca Jones, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University

Much academic and activist time, energy and effort have been directed at changing local food economies and towards developing good food opportunities whether through community or business focussed interventions/projects. However recent research emphasis has been predominantly on the more urbanised food economy. Current alternative visions for many rural spaces have been challenged in terms of providing a clear route-map towards sustainable food futures that delivers local food access and livelihoods. This session will address questions of rural production and explores new supply chain possibilities. This will include research on good and hopeful governance in changing times as well as empirical studies of case studies of best practice from both upland and more productive agri-food /agri diversification and community developments e.g. Charters, Good Food projects, Food Councils and Food Hubs. Learning for building sustainable communities from across projects and networks and a range of scales and global contexts is a key aim of this action research focussed session. This two-part session especially welcomes practitioner and policy-based presentations and new researchers and aims to be as inclusive and interdisciplinary as possible.  

Urban Agriculture: Offering hope and health through horticulture

Session Convenors
Rebecca St. Clair (r.st.clair@mmu.ac.uk)
Dr Mike Hardman (m.hardman@salford.ac.uk)

The potential benefits of Urban Agriculture (UA) and in particular the relationship between food cultivation and health are gaining recognition across academia and policy (Horst, McClintock, & Hoey, 2017; Howe, Viljoen, & Bohn, 2005; Mulligan, Archbold, Baker, Elton, & Cole, 2018). In the UK, Social Prescribing (SP), a process that links patients to “nonmedical sources of support in the community and voluntary sector” (Pilkington, Loef, & Polley, 2017), is one mechanism by which the therapeutic benefits of UA are formally integrated into care. SP is currently experiencing a resurgence, with SP activities such as UA offering the potential to release capacity in general practice, implying cost savings for the NHS (NHS England, n.d.).

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How to Make a Just Food Future: Hopeful collaborations transforming local food partnerships

Session Convenors
Megan Blake, University of Sheffield m.blake@SHEFFIELD.AC.UK
Agatha Herman, Cardiff University HermanA@cardiff.ac.uk
Rebecca Sandover, University of Exeter R.Sandover@exeter.ac.uk

Two RGS-IBG 2019 sessions will follow up themes explored in FGWG’s University of Sheffield conference that reflect on a range of issues related to ‘How to Make a Just Food Future’.  The linked sessions will bring together academics, practitioners and policymakers to reflect on the issues facing food systems, explore the potential for change to emerge from local, regional and trans-local food policy initiatives, investigate the role of the researcher in supporting and analysing these processes and setting out the limitations of these approaches.  A more integrative approach to food policy thinking is being progressed, it is argued, by city, regional and trans-local initiatives that enable policymakers to work with civil society actors on common issues (Betsill & Bulkeley 2007, Morgan & Sonnino 2010, Moragues-Faus & Carroll 2018). Globalised and trans-local networks of civil society food actors, such as Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, who work for more just and sustainable policies, are emerging as coherent voices for a reconfigured food system (Sonnino et al. 2016, Moragues-Faus & Morgan 2015).

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Food Geographies session proposals for RGS-IBG AC 2019

The Food Geographies Working Group (FGWG) invites session proposals for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019 being held in London from Wednesday 28th August to Friday 30th August 2019. Professor Hester Parr will chair the conference with the theme of‘geographies of trouble / geographies of hope’.  The deadline for session proposals is Monday 7th January 2019. Proposals for, or  questions about, FGWG sponsored sessions should be sent to Dr Michael Hardman via m.hardman [at] salford.ac.uk

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