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Title: The organic values of agriculture
Author: Ashmole, Anna
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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Organic farmers and growers in Britain are, technically, a clearly defined group. Producers who wish to sell their crops as organic are now legally required to comply with certain standards, and there were voluntary 'symbol schemes' for many years previously. There are detailed production standards for organic vegetables, fruit, arable crops, meat, eggs and dairy produce. These not only restrict the use of 'agrochemicals' and many conventional veterinary products, but include positive requirements about fertility-building rotations, animal welfare and environmental management. Despite being united in working to defined standards, there is great diversity in the circumstances of organic producers. Organic enterprises range from mixed farms of a thousand or more acres to market gardens of less than an acre. Some organic producers have farms which have been in their family for generations, while others have moved out from the city in order to work with the land. There are farmer who have only converted part of their land to organic and still use agrochemicals on the rest, while other producers may have no experience of conventional methods. Producers also have widely differing motivations for farming or growing organically. There can be personal reasons for the choice: farmers may want to use more 'traditional' methods, or avoid being 'controlled' by agrochemical companies; growers have frequently chosen to 'get out of the rat-race'. Producers are also commonly concerned about one or more specific issues such as wildlife, health, or sustaining soil fertility. A few produce organically in the hope of thereby increasing their profits. Although discrete reasons, such as the above, are often sufficient to lead people to farm or grow organically, some producers regard 'being really organic' as a 'way of life' involving an integrated set of values. Such people talk in terms of 'developing a relationship with nature' and may interpret this in a spiritual or religious context; they typically try to 'live well' in ways defined not by consumerist norms but by their sense of ecological and social ethics. 'Really organic' people generally aspire to 'sow seeds of change' in the wider world - usually by setting an example in the way they live, and sometimes also by the ways they market produce, but only rarely by political activism. This study is based on extended interviews with thirty-seven organic producers across Britain, a postal survey of all Soil Association symbol-holders, and participant observation on ten organic holdings - both farms and market gardens.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available