Participatory farming: the nature of emotions


Collective and participatory agricultural activities are tools to introduce nature into people’s daily lives and help improve the connection between them and nature. Cooperation, collective action and the role of women could have great potential to transform the current agri-food system towards a more sustainable and socially just one.

These conclusions were reached by a team from the Laboratory of Socioecosystems of the Department of Ecology of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). The study was published in the journal Ecosystems and People.


collective farming

Through local collective agricultural initiatives based on agroecology, through which participatory activities are carried out around ecologically sustainable and socially just agriculture, it is possible to re-understand nature from different points: material, experiential, cognitive, emotional or philosophical. .

In this research, the factors that explain a greater connection with nature were identified: the social importance placed on local agricultural landscapes, personal ties to agricultural activities, time spent outdoors and people who identify as female. . In other words, when these factors occurred in people’s daily lives, their connection with nature was greater.

Women and their philosophical connection to nature

The study found that women displayed a stronger and broader worldview in philosophical arguments about their connection to nature, while men connected to nature through more cognitive responses. The results of the study were compiled through workshops organized with the people who participated in the collective and participatory farming initiative Agrolab.

Agrolab is a practical training initiative in agroecology. Through it, workshops are organized where reflection on the relationship to nature is worked on individually and collectively. The information obtained attempted to explain the factors that influence people’s relationship with nature, how we individually understand nature’s relationship with ourselves, and the social understanding of what it means to be or not connected with nature. .

It is important to understand that we live in a situation of rapid global change, and understanding the factors that foster the connection between people and nature is essential to fostering the environmental and cultural sustainability of agricultural landscapes. A challenge of our time is to include the building blocks of a desirable future, such as alternative economies and new metrics to measure human well-being.

The importance of seeds to build good Anthropocenes

From there, we continue research with the SAVIA-Planting Alternatives for Agroecological Innovation project. One of its objectives is based on social initiative Seed of good Anthropoceneswhich collects seeds for good Anthropocenes, that is, projects, projects and experiences that, being rare in their territories, play a fundamental role in the Climate Crisis, with a territorialized vision of production systems and of consumption.

The results of this research reveal that collective agricultural strategies such as the Agrolab initiative and the Seeds of a Good Anthropocene can foster the connection between man and nature by intervening in different areas simultaneously.

These interventions represent two types of leverage points for change: surface interventions, which are easy to apply but have limited capacity to bring about transformational change, and deep interventions, which are difficult to implement but have great potential. ability to bring about transformative change (e.g. access to information or worldviews).

The research challenges that have emerged point to the need to explore the connection between people and nature from an emotional and relational perspective. Thus, we believe there is a need to inspire diverse agricultural strategies that foster more inclusive and diverse relationships between people and natural landscapes such as can be found in agroecological initiatives.

Character font: Irene Pérez-Ramirez / Marina García-Llorente / THE CONVERSATION

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