Rural Paradox


In the agricultural land trust, rural Canada has at hand a useful structure for defending small-scale farming from industrial agriculture. But trusts will not get to Square One until farmers themselves start to question their contradictory beliefs in "rugged individualism" and in the invincibility of market forces.

"It was clear that local residents measured success with the yardstick of mainstream economics. The test of whether a strategy was successful was whether it would allow someone to farm full-time without any other income or employment. This "full-time job" mentality saw the idea of piecing together a livelihood that included small-scale farming as an imperfect solution.

"Residents also exhibited what I think of as the "rural paradox." On the one hand, they demonstrate a strong sense of their interconnectedness, the importance of neighbours, and the value of collaboration. At the same time, the value of independence is seen as a virtue, and deeply ingrained.

"It would appear that, in this context, the challenge for CED practitioners is not so much to devise the structures and models of an effective intervention, but to engage in a values-based dialogue that confronts the realities of global market forces with the possibility of collective action in defence of a better way of life."

The agricultural land trust looks tailor-made for CED. But is it?
Hamilton, Blair
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