Dr. Rebecca Cross, the featured guest speaker at our 2016 AGM, has provided us with a pdf of her talk ‘Agricultural Change and the farming eco-innovator’. Rebecca Cross is a Human Geographer and Rural Sociologist who has an Environmental Science degree and a PhD in Geography, both from the Faculty of Science, UNSW. Her PhD examined the socio-ecological and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainable farming transformations. Her research focuses on the nexus of human/nature interactions, with particular attention to natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, farming sub-cultures, agroecological extension and social research methods. She has been involved in a number of projects related to rural issues, including a historiography of the cotton industry, biodiversity-offsetting schemes, weed hygiene practices, Indigenous enterprise development and landholder collaboration models. She has been a sessional lecturer and tutor in environmental science and human geography at UNSW and agricultural science at The University of Sydney for several years.
This talk introduces a case study from her PhD research of a group of farming ‘eco-innovators’ who are practicing a range of agroecological practices on their farms including, native grass regeneration, strategic and adaptive grazing methods, pasture-cropping/no-kill cropping and low-stress stock management, amongst others. Her research aimed to document their journeys from ‘conventional’ farming systems to regenerative farming systems. Major transitions in management and practice shaped these journeys, including emotional, psychological and philosophical changes. This is an example of a community of practice that is aiming to integrate production and conservation to achieve personal goals of happiness, well-being and economic security. Their stories have much to teach us about harnessing irrationality, intuition and creativity to realise eco-transformations.
(This talk was also delivered at the XIV World Congress of Rural Sociology, Toronto 2016)