Policy's Role in Socioagricultural Transition: A Community Study in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
Louise Hanavan, Rural Research Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College; School for Resource and Greg Cameron, Rural Research Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College
In Atlantic Canada, as in rural areas around the world, many citizens are engaged in ways to adapt innovative local level solutions to the challenges posed by globalized industrial agriculture. To prevent the further unraveling of community fabric and to promote rural resilience, there is a shift in some Atlantic Canadian communities towards what Thomas Lyson terms civic agriculture (2004). Using civic agriculture as a conceptual framework, this in-depth community case study found there is a strong community of Tatamagouche farmers who tend to operate on a small, labour-intensive scale, and who value direct links with consumers. This paper investigates civic agriculture initiatives using the narrative of past socio-agricultural transition to understand present-day challenges and opportunities in realizing a locally organized system of food production and distribution.
Specific policy recommendations based on this study’s findings include: the integration of local mentorship and experiential learning into agricultural education; strategic planning by the province for domestic consumption increases through existing buy-local campaigns and consumer education programmes; a review of regulatory standards to accommodate small-scale and diversified family farms; and start-up aid for community-scale agricultural cooperatives. Additionally, this paper calls for a broader shift in the philosophies that shape current policy choices and recommends reframing the mandate of governmental departments like Health and Environment to address small-scale community-based agriculture, and advocating for the political recognition of the non-commodity benefits of agriculture.
Keywords: civic agriculture, agricultural education, family farms, agricultural cooperatives