'Harvesting a participatory movement'

Initial participatory action research with the Jewish Farmer Network





Participatory Action Research, Agroecology, Jewish Farming, Event Ethnography, Scholar-Activism


The Jewish Farmer Network (JFN) is a North American grassroots organization that mobilizes Jewish agricultural wisdom to build a more just and regenerative food system for all. This paper pre­sents methodological findings and reflections from the initial stages of a participatory action research (PAR) collaboration led by the authors and JFN organizers centered on Cultivating Culture, JFN’s inaugural conference in February 2020. For this early iterative phase, we used a PAR approach to guide event ethnography to both facilitate and understand collective movement building and action. This work included pre-conference collabo­rative research design, a participatory reflection and action workshop with roughly 90 participants, eval­uative surveys, short ethnographic interviews, and ongoing post-conference analysis with researchers and movement organizers. While this data was first analyzed and organized for JFN’s use, we present findings to demonstrate the effectiveness of fore­grounding event ethnography within a PAR re­search design at an early stage of movement for­mation, especially how elements of event ethnogra­phy can address some of the limitations of using PAR with a nascent network of farmers. Our work revealed themes in the movement of Jewish farm­ing: the politics of identity in movement building, the tensions around (de)politicization, and the production of Jewish agroecological knowledge. We reflect on the utility of using PAR to frame scholar-activism and propose future inquires for Jewish agrarianism.


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Author Biographies

Anika M. Rice, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Graduate Student Researcher, Department of Geography

Zachary A. Goldberg, Pennsylvania State University

Graduate Student Researcher, Depart­ment of Geography



How to Cite

Rice, A., & Goldberg, Z. (2021). ’Harvesting a participatory movement’: Initial participatory action research with the Jewish Farmer Network. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(1), 115–136. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.111.010