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Extending agroecology: Grower participation in partnerships is key to social learning

  • Keith Douglass Warner (a1)

The extension of agroecology requires an alternative extension pedagogy. Agroecology is more than merely the promotion of new technologies or practices, but rather a fresh understanding of how to optimize the configuration of biological and technological components of farming systems informed by ecological principles. This necessarily requires a shift in roles among growers and extensionists so that they can actively participate in networks of social learning. Agro-environmental partnerships have emerged in California as the primary strategy for extending alternative, agroecological knowledge in conventional agriculture. Partnerships are an intentional, multi-year relationship among at least growers, a growers' organization, and one or more scientists to extend agroecological knowledge and protect natural resources through a field-scale demonstration. Partnerships have been particularly successful in perennial crop farming systems, and have played critical roles in helping California's almond and pear growers to reduce organophosphate use by over 75%. This study provides a cross partnership comparison of grower participation in partnerships and proposes a five-part typology to rank this.

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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
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