Global EverGreening Alliance
The Global EverGreening Alliance works with, and through, its numerous member organisations - and with governments and multi-lateral agencies - to implement massive land restoration programs. In so doing, the Alliance fosters collaboration, learning, sharing and harmonisation across institutions, sectors and borders.
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Feed the futureland: an actor-based approach to studying food security projects
(Springer Nature, 2023-05-16)
Critical development and food studies scholars argue that the current food security paradigm is emblematic of a ‘New Green Revolution’, characterized by agricultural intensification, increasing reliance on biotechnology, deepening global markets, and depeasantization. High-profile examples of this model are not hard to find. Less examined, however, are food-security programs that appear to work at cross-purposes with this model. Drawing on the case of Feed the Future in Guatemala, I show how USAID engages in activities that valorize ancestral crops, subsistence production, and agroecological practices. Rather than the result of macro-level planning—of either the New Green Revolution or a greener reform regime—I argue that nonconforming food security projects can be traced to individual actors and their interactions on the ground. I draw on an ‘interface approach’ (Long 1990), focusing on the lifeworlds of development workers, their interfaces with each other, and with the to-be-developed. Doing so reveals how food security projects are significantly shaped by the relationships and interests of development actors enmeshed in particular organizational and national settings. This research contributes a fresh perspective on the food security paradigm and its role within the ‘corporate food regime’.
Improving conservation outcomes in agricultural landscapes: farmer perceptions of native vegetation on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
(Springer Nature, 2023-04-25)
With agriculture the primary driver of biodiversity loss, farmers are increasingly expected to produce environmental outcomes and protect biodiversity. However, lack of attention to the way farmers perceive native vegetation has resulted in conservation targets not being met. The Yorke Peninsula (YP), South Australia, is an agricultural landscape where < 5% of vegetation remains on private properties and roadsides. To identify YP farmers’ barriers to vegetation conservation on the roadside and private properties, we interviewed 35 farmers representing 56,980 ha of farms (11% of the YP area) and three agronomists. We identified five barriers to conservation: (1) negative perceptions of roadside vegetation and (2) management bodies; (3) absence of effective conservation programs making use of farmers’ motivations; (4) > 50% farmers perceived that long-term planning was for ≤ 30 years, not enough time to promote ecosystem conservation; (5) a lack of natural resource management information for farmers—as a result, farmers relied on their own experience to manage vegetation. Furthermore, most farmers depended on agronomists, who generally had no stake in biodiversity conservation. We recommend that (1) the Local Council restore social capital by liaising with farmers to promote roadside vegetation (2) long-term farmer-led conservation action be established and supported by Government and industry acting as facilitators rather than project managers; (3) a change in policy and training promote the involvement of agronomists in conservation and its management on private properties; (4) all levels of Government develop schemes to demonstrate the tangible benefits of native vegetation as habitat for wildlife; (5) on-farm conservation be celebrated as successful farming.
What is a food system? Exploring enactments of the food system multiple
(Springer Nature, 2023-04-29)
Recent years have seen widespread calls to transform food systems to address complex demands such as feeding a growing global population while reducing environmental impacts. But what is a food system and how can we most effectively work to change it? “Food System” can be found describing more limited dietary regimens as well as sector-specific supply chains going back to the 1930s, but its use to describe very large, dynamic, coupled socio-ecological systems gained traction in academic and civil society publications in the 1990s and this use of the term has increased dramatically in recent years. When the influential food system actors from non-governmental organizations, foundations, consultancies, and the UN that this research focuses on talk about food systems, they seem to be talking about the same thing. Yet the interpretive flexibility of the concept obfuscates that people may have very different framings that may be deeply incompatible. Drawing from interviews, participant observation, and document analysis, this paper examines what food systems thinking does in terms of setting the stage for how we enact the food system and efforts to intervene in it. It reveals that rather than leading to more expansive understanding, the unexamined use of the concept food system might actually serve to sharpen divides.
Ag-tech, agroecology, and the politics of alternative farming futures: The challenges of bringing together diverse agricultural epistemologies
(Springer Nature, 2023-04-21)
Agricultural-technology (ag-tech) and agroecology both promise a better farming future. Ag-tech seeks to improve the food system through the development of high-tech tools such as sensors, digital platforms, and robotic harvesters, with many ag-tech start-ups promising to deliver increased agricultural productivity while also enhancing food system sustainability. Agroecology incorporates diverse cropping systems, low external resource inputs, indigenous and farmer knowledge, and is increasingly associated with political calls for a more just food system. Recently, demand has grown for the potentially groundbreaking benefits of their convergence, with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) attempting just such a union. Building on its combined expertise in engineering and agroecology, as well as a longstanding reputation as a socially progressive institution, university administrators believe that UCSC could produce a unique, socially just form of ag-tech designed for small, low-resource farmers—a rare contribution given ag-tech’s tendency to cater primarily to large-scale agribusiness. This paper examines the complexities of uniting agroecology and ag-tech through interviews with agroecologists, engineers, and social scientists involved in UCSC’s ag-tech initiative. Within the setting of a historically radical yet neoliberalizing university, I find that significant epistemic and structural barriers exist for agroecology and ag-tech to come together on an even playing field. This case study contributes to broader discussions of the future of food and farming by focusing on the contours and challenges of a widely called-for agricultural collaboration, highlighting its difficulty but also areas of possibility in a particularly rich, contested context.
Tackling land’s ‘stubborn materiality’: the interplay of imaginaries, data and digital technologies within farmland assetization
(Springer Nature, 2023-05-01)
The nature of farming is – still – an essentially biological, and thus volatile, system, which poses substantial challenges to its integration into financialized capitalism. Financial investors often seek stability and predictability of returns that are hardly compatible with agriculture – but which are increasingly seen as achievable through data and digital farming technologies. This paper investigates how farmland investment brokers engage with, perceive, and produce farming data for their investors within a co-constructive process. Tackling land’s ‘stubborn materiality’ for investment, I argue, has material and immaterial components: it includes the re-imagination of farming as a financial asset that delivers reliable income streams for investors; and the re-engineering of farmland’s concrete materialities with digital farming technologies. Farmland investment brokers develop investor-suitable farmland imaginaries, underpinned by storytelling as well as the calculative ‘evidence’ of (digital) data. At the same time, digital technologies have become a key tool for transforming farms into ‘investment grade assets’ endowed with the rich data on farm performance and financial returns requested by investors. I conclude that the assetization and digitization of farmland need to be seen as closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing processes and identify key areas for future research on this intersection.