Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community / Edition 1

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While the American agricultural and food systems follow a decades-old path of industrialization and globalization, a counter trend has appeared toward localizing some agricultural and food production. Thomas A. Lyson, a scholar-practitioner in the field of community-based food systems, calls this rebirth of locally based agriculture and food production civic agriculture because these activities are tightly linked to a community’s social and economic development. Civic agriculture embraces innovative ways to produce, process, and distribute food, and it represents a sustainable alternative to the socially, economically, and environmentally destructive practices associated with conventional large-scale agriculture. Farmers’ markets, community gardens, and community-supported agriculture are all forms of civic agriculture.

Lyson describes how, in the course of a hundred years, a small-scale, diversified system of farming became an industrialized system of production and also how this industrialized system has gone global. He argues that farming in the United States was modernized by employing the same techniques and strategies that transformed the manufacturing sector from a system of craft production to one of mass production. Viewing agriculture as just another industrial sector led to transformations in both the production and the processing of food. As small farmers and food processors were forced to expand, merge with larger operations, or go out of business, they became increasingly disconnected from the surrounding communities. Lyson enumerates the shortcomings of the current agriculture and food systems as they relate to social, economic, and environmental sustainability. He then introduces the concept of community problem solving and offers empirical evidence and concrete examples to show that a re-localization of the food production system is underway.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An eye-opening read recommended for collections on agriculture, community development, economics of food production and sociology."—Academia

“[Lyson] provides an excellent historical context on how Northeast growers, who traditionally sold their products in local urban markets, have been able to resist somewhat the pressures to "go corporate" and in the current century, preserve their land by embracing the CSAs, farmers' markets, and other forms of civic agriculture.”—The Community Farm

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584654148
  • Publisher: Tufts University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Series: Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,296,660
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

THOMAS A. LYSON (d. 2007) was Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University. His most recent book, co-edited with Richard K. Olsen, was Under the Blade: The Conversion of Agricultural Landscapes (1998). A past editor of the journal Rural Sociology, Lyson was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables
Acknowledgements - Introduction: Community Agriculture and Local Food Systems
Civic Agriculture
Farming and Food Today
A Place for Civic Agriculture
Plan of the Book - From Subsistence to Production: How American Agriculture Was Made Modern
Agriculture and Rural Life
The Emergence of Modern Economic Forms
Early Agricultural Development
Three Agricultural Revolutions
The Social Construction of Modern Economic Categories
Civic Economy, Economic Embeddedness, and the Informal Economy
The Civic/Embedded Economy in the United Satates - Going Global: The Industrialization and Consolidation of Agriculture and Food Production in the United States
From Craft Production to Mass Production
The Trend toward Concentration and Consolidation
Changing Geography of Production
Distancing: Separating Production and Consumption
Control of Farmland
Labor Intensification
Supply Chains - The Global Supply Chain
The Global Food System
The Jolly Green Giant as a Corporate Migrant
Grocery Wars
Corporate Reach: The Men and Women behind the Food System •Whiter the Poor Customer? - Toward a Civic Agriculture
Moving Toward Civic Agriculture
Theoretical Underpinnings of Civic Agriculture
Walter Goldscmidt's Landmark Study
Production Districts
Two Models of Agricultural Development
Neoclassical Economics Versus Pragmatism
Production versus Development Frameworks
Experimental Biology versus Ecological Biology
Corporate versus Community Orientation
Corporate Middle Class versus Independent Middle Class
Political Process and Power
Motors for Change
Civic Agriculture and Sustainable Agriculture
Why Didn't Small Business Flourish? - Civic Agriculture and Community Agricultural Development
Profiling Civic Agriculture
Community-Supported Agriculture
Restaurant Agriculture
Farmers' Markets
Roadside Stands
Urban Agriculture. City Farming, Community Gardens
Measuring Civic Agriculture - From Commodity Agriculture to Civic Agriculture
Commodity Agriculture
Refashioning Farming to fit the Marketplace
Reconnecting Farm, Food and Community: Tools for Change
Civic Agriculture: Moving from the Marketplace to the Community.

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