(USA)

A new study in America has highligthed the importance of strengthening local connections in the quest to advance sustainable agriculture.

By developing local food systems in Kansas and Missouri, to bring together farmers from different backgrounds, University of Kansas doctoral candidate in Sociology, Ruth Stamper, was able to facilitate greater understanding among groups whose paths would rarely cross.

“Many of the farmers I talked to expressed being surprised at the relationships they built with people who were so different than them,” said Ruth Stamper.

Breaking down barriers between social groups with conflicting views of the wider world, whether on issues of religion or sexuality, through face-to-face interaction, had a positive effect.

“They shared practices and how they were educating themselves, creating this space where they are building relationships that haven’t necessarily developed before,” Ruth said.

And the implications of the research could be far reaching.

“It’s crucial to be studying local food networks and sustainable agriculture because it’s a very important way that we can be addressing climate change. We need to be focusing on local solutions. Supporting sustainable agriculture is really vital for healthy, food-secure communities, for our relationship to the environment, and especially for finding ways to come together across these ideological divides to address serious environmental concerns,” added Ruth.

She presented her findings today at the American Sociological Association’s 2017 annual meeting in Montreal.