Post-organic? the cultural dimensions of organic farming in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales

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Publication details

Evans, M & Ferguson, H 2013, 'Post-organic? the cultural dimensions of organic farming in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales', Locale: the Australasian - Pacific journal of regional food studies, vol. 3, pp. 1-28.

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Organic food is enjoying increased mainstream acceptance, and the market growth that comes with that, but as a consequence has been subject to scrutiny over its ability to deliver the environmental and social benefits it is sometimes seen to embody. This article responds to the limited space thus far afforded to farmers’ voices in the literature on this topic. Using an innovative case study approach and focusing on four farms in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, each with their own experiences of organics, we explore how farmers understand both the growth and nature of organic farming systems. We discuss organics as ‘generative metaphor’ in these farmers’ narratives, operating at the intersections between farmer agency, local places, culture, and forms of social organisation, and global discourses of alterity, ecology, and sustainability. While their stories describe a considerable opening of organic farming in recent years, contrasting this with earlier defenses of the classification standard in the face of cultural and economic marginalisation, providing an alternative to conventional food remains central to farmers’ descriptions of their place in the food system.