Cultivating Climate Consciousness: Agritourism Providers’ Perspectives of Farms, Food and Place
Cavaliere, Christina T.
The aim of this PhD research is to explore climate change perspectives of agritourism providers in New Jersey (NJ) located in the United States (US). Research objectives include the assessment of agritourism providers’ narratives around the status of farms, food and the constructions of place as related to climate change. The forces driving climate change are a complex mix of biophysical, cultural and socio-economic factors. This human induced climate challenge is caused by increases in emissions from fossil fuels resulting from economic and population growth. Farms and food production both contribute to and at the same time are impacted by climate change. As opposed to industrial agriculture, the examination of local agriculture as a source of sustenance, resilience and reconnection to place is significant as human population increases. Agritourism is considered as any business conducted by a farmer for the enjoyment or education of the public, to promote the products of the farm and to generate additional income. The intrinsic, transformative and socio-cultural components of agritourism hold value that is yet to be fully understood by increasingly urbanized, globalised and time-space-compressed societies. This examination of agritourism providers’ narratives concerning climate change is particularly relevant to NJ as it is the most densely populated geo-political boundary in the US. Using a qualitative inquiry approach, this research utilizes social constructionism and is understood as a collective generation and transmission of meaning. The empirical material was collected via a series of 36 semi-structured, open-ended interviews that lasted an average of two hours each and were conducted over a five-month period. Interwoven participant and researcher reflectivity regarding place consciousness and connection to landscapes through food was critical to the co-constructed narratives. In addition, the research method of co-constructed photography was employed in order to more deeply facilitate embodied narratives. Furthermore, publicly documented material was collected from 52 newspaper articles and 11 documentaries related to the research themes and were utilised for additional and comparative information. Content analysis of the empirical data resulted in the identification of six primary themes that include: consumption, production, time, alternate ways of knowing, nature-based experiences and knowledge networks. There are two main theoretical elements underpinning this research. These elements are directly related to the economic and population drivers of the climate challenge and were utilised to explore the human relationship to these issues. First, the economic concept of degrowth as related to climate change is presented along with the New Economics Framework (NEF). The second theoretical component is related to agritourism and place consciousness. Farms and resulting foodscapes can serve to develop connections and holistic understandings that embed individuals within the social and natural world. A Multidisciplinary Framework for Place Conscious Education (MFPCE) was applied to deconstruct themes derived from the empirical data relating to place consciousness. The research findings indicated that there is an increasing concern related to climate change implications for agritourism providers. At the same time, there is strong evidence that the participants are not equipped with information to begin employing mitigation or adaptation strategies. Agritourism providers involved with organic practices were more concerned and informed about climate change than those involved in conventional agriculture. The status of farms was identified as a biocultural conservation issue due to population pressure and land-use challenges resulting in the impending total build-out of the state. The presence of specific social movements that address the climate challenge were identified as part of sustainability focused agritourism sites. Participants also discussed related activities that included Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) schemes, relocalisation of food consumption through a food-labelling programme, farming apprenticeships and the development of localised speciality foods including aquaculture. Participants understood these social movements and related activities as approaches to engaging with new economics for transitions to post-carbon livelihoods. The multi-theoretical roles of temporality and temporal relationships were identified and contributed as new indicators to the NEF and the MFPCE frameworks. In summary, participant narratives involving farms, food and place were explored as a way to further understand more nuanced meanings of the human relationship to climate change. This research furthers qualitative agritourism research from an interpretivist perspective and within a region that is understudied. Through the amalgamation of literature, empirical findings and the contribution of new framework indicators, this research explores aspects of cultivating new economic and place-based climate consciousness within the agritourism context.
Advisor: Higham, James; Carr, Anna
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Tourism
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: climate change; agritourism; social constructions; sense of place; degrowth
Research Type: Thesis