An exploration of the lived experience of small-scale organic farmers in New England that unpacks how they balance their ideals with economic realities
In recent years, the popularity of organically grown produce has exploded. In 2014, organic fruits and vegetables accounted for 12% of all produce sales in the United States, with $39 billion in consumer sales reported for 2015. As a federally recognized niche market within the agricultural mainstream, organic farming is increasingly on display in American grocery stores. Yet the organic food most Americans consume today is produced by an industrial food system at odds with the practices and ideals of small-scale farmers. Taking an ethnographic approach, the fieldwork by Connor Fitzmaurice and Brian Gareau at a small New England organic farm sheds light on how farmers navigate the difficult terrain between practices of sustainability and the economic realities of contemporary agriculture. Drawing on extensive research, Fitzmaurice and Gareau examine the historical context, complexities, and viability of nonconventional organic farming practices: practices that seek to balance ecology and community with the business of agriculture.