Coast-to-coast cream of the crop: Phil Loring, Brian Robinson, Anne Salomon, Evan Fraser and Elena Bennett all cramming slides for the NSERC SPG-N site visit at McGill back in Spring 2019.
The media blackout has finally been lifted, thanks to a whimper of a press release from NSERC, that our Strategic Partnership Grant for Networks led by Elena Benett at McGill was successful! This is the culmination of a few years of partnership formation, collaboration and grant-writing. NSERC ResNet, the short name for our “network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience”, will advance Ecosystem Services (ES) as a framework for thinking and working across disciplines to make better decisions in this country. The project will apply ES to contentious production landscape issues across Canada, including the Atlantic case study I’m co-leading with Jeremy Lundholm and Danika van Proosdij on the Bay of Fundy dykelands. We’ve got great partners, and a very active case as the NS Department of Agriculture is already deciding which dykelands can and should be sustained, and which realigned and/or restored to salt marsh. This project will allow us to wrap a research programme around that ongoing work, and leverage experts across the country. I look forward to the next 5+ years with this exceptional team.
Happy to announce another paper out of our Reconciling HM project, based on work Carolyn Mann led after her MSc. Our overarching question for her work has been, “are HM farmers born or made?” and that has indeed been an elusive question to answer. We started by talking to HM trainers across North America, and certainly learned that the paradigmatic shifts are seen as the most important by trainers but also more challenging to teach and to adopt than grazing skills; that work was published in Sustainability last year.
This new paper, recently out in Ecology & Society, used Q method with a set of HM trainers, as well as farmers variously identifying as HM or ‘somewhat HM’. Sorting of statements about farming that were selected as being generically systems or traditional in nature revealed archetypes that reveal the trainers to be firmly systems experts, and trainees to be more weakly aligned with systems thinking though in some cases aspirational. Our question remains: does HM training attract those with the capacity for systems thinkers, which will necessarily be a subset of all farmers, or can it indeed be taught?
Nice to hear my co-supervised PhD student Bernard Soubry on CBC Halifax’s Information Morning today, talking about what the new IPCC report on Land Use and Climate Change means for farming in Nova Scotia. He drew on his interviews with farmers and other food system experts across the Maritimes over the past few years. The clip is here.
Wes Tourangeau’s last day, with a pile of library books to return.
The HM project is winding up, now in its extension year with SSHRC, and that means staffing is starting to contract. Really sad to see postdoc Wes Tourangeau heading out the door this week after 22 months, but happy that he is starting an important new stage of his career as a limited term appointment at Saint Mary’s University. As he leaves he has one paper out and five papers in first or second review–five of those six he led–across a wide range of topics and methods. That pile of library books includes works on the Falklands and its wool economy, statistics, environmental ethics, environmental history and more. I feel very lucky to have had such a rigorous and adaptable scholar work with me for such a duration. Best of luck, Wes!