Reality Education: Agricultural Knowledge Exchange in the U.S. South
Access to agricultural education is critical for farmers to maintain sustainable and profitable agricultural enterprises. Yet African American farmers have historically faced obstacles in gaining equal access to educational resources, due in part to the communicative frameworks through which agricultural knowledge is transmitted. Framing agricultural education as a communicative event, this paper examines the process of knowledge transmission itself as practiced by a grassroots organization dedicated to overcoming educational disparities by providing educational programs and resources for African American farmers. This paper draws on research gathered through ethnographic methods, including collaborative filmmaking. Collaborative filmmaking provided both a means to focus on the performative, tacit, and embodied components of the educational process and a tool for discussing interpretations and the relevance of the educational programs with participants. Drawing on this research, this paper argues that while it is important for all extension agents and educators to pay attention to communicative frameworks, intermediary organizations play an important role in providing critical and accessible agricultural education to local communities. Intermediary organizations and local educational programs can utilize local discourses, engage tacit and symbolic knowledge, serve as translators between mainstream educational resources and local communities, and provide specific knowledge for the goals of local communities.
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