This year’s International Agroecology Short Course had participants representing 14 nationalities from 3 continents engaged in an unique exchange of concepts and experiences with community-based participatory action research (CPAR) approaches in agroecology to develop and support sustainable food systems. In addition to providing a solid introduction to the field of agroecology, the course presented a critical overview of participatory approaches and methods, illustrated with long-term, ongoing CPAR processes in the U.S. and Latin America. The course took place in the state with one of the strongest locally-driven food systems in the United States, and at a university with a remarkable commitment to action-education in agroecology, to research on sustainability, to food and agriculture system sustainability, and to linking all of this with community-based participatory processes. The course was sponsored by The University of Vermont’s (UVM) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Plant & Soil
Science Dept., Environmental Program, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, CUPS office,
and Continuing Education, by the University of California at Santa Cruz’s (UCSC) Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA), by the Community Agroecology Network (CAN), and by Heifer International.
Agroecology, the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems, was presented using a combination of theoretical and applied learning experiences. CPAR for agro-food systems was presented as a methodology that uses a grassroots process for bringing all voices to the table. In this way research can meet expressed needs and by involving all stakeholders in the process, promote democracy in the food system. Through the course, we discussed the theoretical concepts behind current global food issues while local sustainable farmers and food activists shared with us their regional programs for change. Experiences and options for developing sustainable production practices, strengthening the local food movement, ensuring food security, sovereignty and justice, connecting urban-rural foodsheds, supporting innovative action-education programs, and monitoring the sustainability of local food systems in the face of globalizing pressures, were all presented during the intensive two-week course.
For more information visit the University of Vermont webpage!