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“Organic is more of an American term... we are traditional farmers”: discourses of place-based organic farming, community, heritage, and sustainability

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Hoffmann, Jeffrey Alan (main author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
Taylor & Francis
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication methods, communication patterns, environmental communication, indigenous knowledge, interviews, organic farming, sustainability, teaching, traditional knowledge, family farm, organic, families, knowledge exchange
19 pages., via online journal., The following study looks at how traditional, organic, cooperative farmers starting a new farming cooperative in the US Southwest communicate about their farming as a set of (sustainable) cultural practices. The study draws on environmental communication theory, the theory of the coordinated management of meaning, and Vandana Shiva’s three-tiered economic model to construct a communication-based framework through which to view farmers’ stories about sustainability. This framework is productive, showing how some Nuevo Mexicano farmers (and others) orient toward farming, sustenance, and human-nature relationships through community, family, heritage, and education. Moreover, in addition to a conceptualization of sustainability as specific practices for nurturing and enduring in environments, communities, and organizations/institutions, sustainability can be understood as embedded ecocultural and historical experience with cross-cultural parallels in land-based communities. This study advances the ethical duty of environmental communication to better understand the ways in which environmental discourse and ecocultural and material realities are imbricated, as well as the call for such discursive study to be grounded in phenomenological experience of the natural world.