The Place of Food by Minh Ngo (MA Thesis)


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While a rural renaissance appears to be re-emerging as part of the local food movement, there has been limited research exploring the counterurban experiences of new urban-oriented farmers (NUOFs) working towards becoming a part of the rural agricultural landscape. To this end, my thesis explores how NUOFs construct a ‘sense of place’ for themselves. Conducted in the summer of 2009, this ethnographic research examined the experiences of nine NUOFs living and working in rural communities in southern Ontario. Using a multi-dimensional ‘sense of place’ framework, this study found that NUOFs drew from the rural and urban environment to inform their place identity while the emotive bond to the physical and social environment varied greatly between each farmer. A networked ‘sense of community’ seemed based on interest rather than geography. Overall, the findings suggest the development of a sense of place among NUOFs is a diverse, dynamic and differentiated process.

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The Place of Food by Minh Ngo (MA Thesis)

  1. 1. The place of food: <br />constructing a sense of place among <br />new urban-oriented farmers in <br />rural communities in southern Ontario<br />Presented by: Minh Ngo, MA CandidateDepartment of Geography and Environmental Studies<br />Thesis Committee: Dr. Michael Brklacich & Dr. Fiona Mackenzie<br />May 17, 2011<br />
  2. 2. Cultivating curiosity<br />2<br />
  3. 3. Presentation overview<br />Setting the research context<br />Conceptual framework & methodology<br />Results and analysis<br />Lessons learnt<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Rural renaissance and the local food movement<br />4<br />
  5. 5. 5<br />CHANGING RURAL LANDSCAPES<br />Declining rural farming population<br />Emergence of new urban-oriented farmers<br />Counterurbanization movement<br />
  6. 6. ResearchQuestion<br />6<br />In choosing to participate in the local food movement,<br />how are new urban-oriented farmers (NUOFs) constructing a<br />‘sense of place’ within rural farming communities?<br />Objectives: <br />What does a ‘sense of place’ look like from a spatial perspective? <br />What are the motivations and values behind farming that bring NUOFs to rural places?<br />What are the ‘everyday’ experiences of transitioning to a rural livelihood and lifestyle? <br />
  7. 7. Sense of Place Conceptual Framework<br />7<br />Place identity: How and individual uses the environment to situate his or her identity (Cuba and Hummon, 1993)<br />Place attachment: Emotional bonds (positive and negative) between people and the physical environment (Manzo, 2005)<br />Sense of community: Belonging, support, and membership with the people living in a defined space (McMillan and Chavis, 1986)<br />
  8. 8. Methodological framework<br />8<br />Ethnography<br />Lived experiences<br />Summer 2009<br /> 9 NUOF collaborators<br />10 weeks<br />Figure 1. 2006 Census districts, Southern Ontario<br />
  9. 9. Multiple data collection methods<br />9<br />Photovoice<br />
  10. 10. Spatial Perspective<br />10<br />Table 1. Spatial distribution of NUOFs’ resource networks<br />Influential factors: <br />Collaboration<br />Location (i.e. proximity to urban centres)<br />Demographic characteristics<br />Key findings: <br /><ul><li> Majority of networks tend to occur relatively close to the farm, regardless of the amount of time NUOFs have been farming at their current location.
  11. 11. Based on the network developments, there is evidence to suggest that constructing a sense of place is a highly diverse and discrete practice among the NUOFs.</li></li></ul><li>Place Identity<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Place Attachment<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Sense of Community<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Building a sense of community<br />14<br />Geographically dispersed and networked <br />agricultural community of practice<br />
  15. 15. Constructing a Sense of Place<br />15<br />NUOFs constructed a very dynamic sense of place, (i.e. sense of place is not fixed to one particular place). <br />Uneven and differentiated process, contextualized by the lives of NUOFs. <br />Sense of place is constantly in the process of production.<br />
  16. 16. Lessons Learnt<br />16<br />
  17. 17. Acknowledgements<br />Dr. Mike Brklacich and Dr. Fiona Mackenzie<br />The Nine Collaborating Farmers<br />DGES staff (Natalie Pressburger, Judy Donaldson, Dr. Doug King)<br />Family & Friends<br />Mathew Brown<br />17<br />