Agriculture and Human Values 23 (1):75-88 (2006)

While questions about the environmental sustainability of contemporary farming practices and the socioeconomic viability of rural communities are attracting increasing attention throughout the US, these two issues are rarely considered together. This paper explores the current and potential connections between these two aspects of sustainability, using data on community members’ and farmers’ views of agricultural issues in California’s Central Valley. These views were collected from a series of individual and group interviews with biologically oriented and conventional farmers as well as community stakeholders. Local marketing, farmland preservation, and perceptions of sustainable agriculture comprised the primary topics of discussion. The mixed results indicate that, while many farmers and community members have a strong interest in these topics, sustainable community development and the use of sustainable farming practices are seldom explicitly linked. On the other hand, many separate efforts around the Valley to increase local marketing and agritourism, improve public education about agriculture, and organize grassroots farmland preservation initiatives were documented. We conclude that linking these efforts more explicitly to sustainable agriculture and promoting more engagement between ecologically oriented farmers and their communities could engender more economic and political support for these farmers, helping them and their communities to achieve greater sustainability in the long run
Keywords California’s Central Valley  Community development  Farmer-consumer connections  Farmland preservation  Local marketing  Sustainable agriculture
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DOI 10.1007/s10460-004-5870-y
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