Unfolding farm practices: Working toward sustainable food production in the Netherlands and Spain

P. Swagemakers, M.D. Dominguez Garcia, X.S. Fernández, J.S.C. Wiskerke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
JournalJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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