Preliminary findings from mixed-methods research that investigated why one county in Eastern North Carolina is trending strongly towards diversified cropping systems while its neighboring county is rapidly simplifying.
Although modern farming tends towards specialization, diversified agriculture can mitigate the drivers and effects of climate change alike. In North Carolina, the agricultural landscapes of two bordering counties starkly diverge. Both display surprisingly high productivity, but one has been trending sharply towards simplified crop landscapes, and its neighbor, towards diversified.
As part of a mixed-methods project, this talk presents a comparative, historically informed analysis of these two counties through the perspectives of diverse farmers and stakeholders. It analyzes how differential effects of 20th century changes in agricultural policy, agronomic characteristics, and historical path dependencies together embedded neighboring farmers’ decision-making within distinct contexts leading to distinct crop geographies. Drawing on land-use theory, we suggest that approaching crop diversification as a form of landscape change helps to explain these dynamics and identifies the multi-scalar drivers of crop diversification.
The presentation also discusses the methodological process of merging “big” data from national-level datasets with “deep” data from farm visits and oral history interviews, and points towards future research opportunities created by such mixed-methods approaches.
Dr. Andrea Rissing is an Assistant Professor of sustainable food systems in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Her research themes include U.S. farmers’ diverse livelihood strategies, processes of agrarian change, and local food system governance. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology in 2019 from Emory University, and completed postdoctoral research fellowships at The Ohio State University and Emory University before starting at ASU in Fall 2022.
GES Colloquium is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will be held in-person in Poe 202, as well as live-streamed via Zoom. Please subscribe to the GES newsletter and Twitter for updates .