This project began as part of a M.A. of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. For six years prior to starting my degree, I had been working on organic, small-scale market farms and permaculture farms in Canada, Nicaragua and the U.S. I was blown away by all the amazingly diverse, innovative and creative ways that growers were approaching their agroecosystems – a far cry from the industrialized model. Each farmer was working closely with the needs of their particular systems and employing unique techniques accordingly – yet there was always a cross-pollination of ideas taking place. “Borrowed” technologies and practices from all over the world kept cropping up in the places I was visiting, though they seemed to all have their own unique, localized flavour.
I wanted to explore these different ways that farmers were approaching their systems, and to celebrate this diversity. I also wanted to produce research that could be easily accessible and useful for farmers.
While working in the fields with farmer friends, I found that I was frequently surrounded by discussions that centered around a few particular topics, and I used these initial consultations and my own experiences in farming to guide my research. It was important to me that the research was to reflect the vast knowledge that farmers have (but are often not credited with), knowledge that has been gathered over careful experimentation and observation, and shows a real, on-the-ground understanding of whole system dynamics – they are doing field experiments every single day (literally!).
A massive thank-you to all that have helped me with this project – especially to all of the farmers that have taught me so much, your work is so appreciated!
Hannah Maia Roessler
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