Contemporary agri-ecological systems and their contribution to community resilience: reconnecting people and food, and people with people

Christine Anne King

Abstract


Alternative agricultural systems that ecological and community resilience provide a bridge between traditional agriculture ( . broad scale
mono-cropping rotations) and natural resource management ( . maintaining pristine environments). These can be referred to as -ecological
systems and include systems such as Organic Agriculture, , Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), , Farmers
Markets and Community Gardens. Government agencies, private industries (and to some extent Universities) primarily focus on traditional
agricultural systems. Where sustainability and community health issues are considered, the usual emphasis is on how these traditional systems
might be adapted or managed to reduce environmental or health impacts (within the current economic and production paradigm). Communities
however, are taking the lead in developing -ecological systems that address today’s environmental and social justice imperatives. These
approaches often require more systemic change, as well as a shift from an economic paradigm to an ecological one.
emphasise eg
eg agri
Biodynamics Permaculture
agri
This paper reports on current research by the author to explore a range of alternative approaches to agriculture and how they contribute to more
resilient agri-ecological systems and communities. For example, resiliency can be seen as a systems ability to adapt and respond to external impacts
on a system, and farmers markets show resiliency to sudden market changes (such as price or consumer preferences toward organics, through direct
sale and the involvement of a range of consumers and producers offering a broad range of organic produce). More specifically, this paper reviews
these alternative approaches to agriculture in relation to key concepts from ecological systems thinking, such as ecological resilience, biodiversity
and holism. In addition, the paper explores how these systems contribute to more sustainable and resilient communities, through community
development processes such as relationship building, genuine participation, inclusiveness, resource mobilization and creating space for knowledge
sharing. The paper concludes comparing ecological systems models to alternative agri-ecological systems, and suggests how ecological systems
theories and concepts might contribute to thinking about the future of community-based agro-ecological resilience.

Keywords


agricultural systems; ecological systems; food systems; community resilience, sustainability

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