Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 69–82 | Cite as

Growing food, growing a movement: climate adaptation and civic agriculture in the southeastern United States

  • Carrie Furman
  • Carla Roncoli
  • Donald R. Nelson
  • Gerrit Hoogenboom


This article examines the role that civic agriculture in Georgia (US) plays in shaping attitudes, strategies, and relationships that foster both sustainability and adaptation to a changing climate. Civic agriculture is a social movement that attracts a specific type of “activist” farmer, who is linked to a strong social network that includes other farmers and consumers. Positioning farmers’ practices within a social movement broadens the understanding of adaptive capacity beyond how farmers adapt to understand why they do so. By drawing upon qualitative and quantitative data and by focusing on the cosmological, organizational, and technical dimensions of the social movement, the study illuminates how social values and networks shape production and marketing strategies that enable farmers to share resources and risks. We propose a conceptual framework for understanding how technical and social strategies aimed to address the sustainability goals of the movement also increase adaptive capacity at multiple timescales. In conclusion, we outline directions for future research, including the need for longitudinal studies that focus on consumer motivation and willingness to pay, the effects of scale on consumer loyalty and producer cooperation, and the role of a social movement in climate change adaptation. Finally, we stress that farmers’ ability to thrive in uncertain climate futures calls for transformative approaches to sustainable agriculture that support the development of strong social networks.


Civic agriculture Sustainable agriculture Social networks Social movements Adaptive capacity Climate change 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie Furman
    • 1
  • Carla Roncoli
    • 2
  • Donald R. Nelson
    • 3
  • Gerrit Hoogenboom
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.AgWeatherNetWashington State UniversityProsserUSA

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