Identifying and differentiating farm-community linkages in organic farming in Ontario

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MacKinnon, Shauna Leigh

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University of Guelph

Abstract

In contrast to recent critiques of 'industrial agriculture', organic farming has enjoyed long-standing claim over the notion that organics is inherently 'good' for communities. Recent recognition of the emergent structural diversity of the organic farm sector introduces considerable complexity in understanding the nature and importance of connections between organic farming and the local community and food system. This research examines social and economic linkages between organic producers and communities across a sample of farm enterprises that reflect the cross section of commodity and structural characteristics present in Ontario, Canada. Findings are based upon interviews conducted with nearly seventy organic farmers in southern Ontario and provide evidence for strong farm-community linkages. However, the expected, and demonstrated, reality is that the nature and strength of this assumed relationship is at least somewhat contingent on the enterprise characteristics of the organic farms in question.

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organic farming, organics, structural diversity, organic farm sector, local community, food system, Ontario, farm-community linkages

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