Principles Guiding Practice: A Case Study Analysis of the Principles of Sustainable Agriculture for Diverse Farms

  • Kelly N. Moore University of Florida
  • Marilyn E. Swisher University of Florida
  • Juan Carlos Rodriguez Roca Consulting Group, LLC
  • Mark Blevins Brunswick County Extension Services, North Carolina State University
  • Michael Hogan The Ohio State University
  • Lauren Hunter Blain County Extension Services, University of Idaho
  • Christine Kelly-Begazo Indian River County Extension Services, University of Florida
  • Stephen Komar Cooperative Extension of Sussex County, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Suzanne Mills-Wasniak Montgomery County Extension Services, The Ohio State University
  • David Redhage Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Keywords: Sustainable Agriculture, Principles, Case Study, Discovery Learning, Community Engagement, Business Principles, Financial Risk

Abstract

Early proponents of sustainable agriculture faced considerable resistance and initiated a long-lasting discussion over strategies for sustainable agriculture. This controversy has re-emerged recently in the discussion of agro-ecology versus sustainable intensification. Fourteen agricultural professionals participated in a guided discovery learning process on six agricultural operations in Florida that are considered to be good examples of sustainability. The six operations included large and small farms, organic and conventional farms, livestock and crop enterprises, and traditional and direct sales marketing approaches. The objective of the process was to identify the principles that the operators use to guide their specific management decisions, including decisions with economic, environmental, and social consequences. Participants studied information about each operation and created a set of questions to ask the manager(s) about the underlying philosophy and principles that guide the management and then spent one to six hours at each site. The information was analyzed in small groups after each visit, and a summative analysis was completed after all site visits were completed. Although these operations are very diverse in terms of characteristics like size, enterprise mix, farm capital, technologies used, marketing strategies, and manager experience, the study showed also similarities across the farms in the principles that guide their decision-making. From these principles, nine broad principles of sustainable agriculture were identified. Most contemporary theoretical concepts about social, economic, and environmental sustainability are reflected in the operating principles of these businesses.

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Author Biographies

Kelly N. Moore, University of Florida
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida; P.O. Box 110310; Gainesville, Florida 32611-0310 USA; +1-352-273-3508.
Marilyn E. Swisher, University of Florida
Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Roca Consulting Group, LLC
Roca Consulting Group, LLC.
Mark Blevins, Brunswick County Extension Services, North Carolina State University
Brunswick County Extension Services, North Carolina State University.
Michael Hogan, The Ohio State University
College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University.
Lauren Hunter, Blain County Extension Services, University of Idaho
Blain County Extension Services, University of Idaho.
Christine Kelly-Begazo, Indian River County Extension Services, University of Florida
Indian River County Extension Services, University of Florida.
Stephen Komar, Cooperative Extension of Sussex County, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Cooperative Extension of Sussex County, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
Suzanne Mills-Wasniak, Montgomery County Extension Services, The Ohio State University
Montgomery County Extension Services, The Ohio State University.
David Redhage, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
Published
2016-06-20
How to Cite
Moore, K. N., Swisher, M. E., Rodriguez, J. C., Blevins, M., Hogan, M., Hunter, L., Kelly-Begazo, C., Komar, S., Mills-Wasniak, S., & Redhage, D. (2016). Principles Guiding Practice: A Case Study Analysis of the Principles of Sustainable Agriculture for Diverse Farms. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(3), 61-89. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2016.063.008