Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: farming (page 2 of 3)

Discourse in HM and permaculture

All day today and tomorrow I will be enjoying final-term MREM student project presentations, including by HM project RA Carlisle Kent. After a summer spent on bibliometric analysis of holistic management, which we’re currently preparing for publication, she tackled a discourse analysis over the fall term. Specifically, we have been interested in the differences between the adaptive nature of the principles of holistic management (HM) and permaculture, and the sometimes proselytizing, ‘chapter and verse’ nature of proponent language. We wondered if this was in part responsible for the divide between practitioner and scientist perspectives of the practices. She looked at the rhetoric evident in  websites and Twitter, and mapped those two social movements online.  It was clear that rhetorical tools such as emotion, and building common ground through antipathy with non-members, were more evident than evidence. Additionally the adaptive and problem-solving nature of the movements were not at all evident in the discourse. Credibility suffers as a result. Great work and excellent presentation, Carlisle!

A lovely day in the Musquodoboit

Cows grazing along the Old Guysborough Road.

Cows grazing along the Old Guysborough Road.

I had a great day today at a workshop organized by the Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture folks, who administer the North American Waterfowl Management Plan activities in this region. Many of my existing collaborators on farm wetland and biodiversity issues across government and NGOs were present, to share our work and discuss common interests in the Musquodoboit River area. It was a beautifully sunny morning, on a warmer than average day, and so wonderful to get out of town and into the countryside. Great to be feeling a growing interest in social science within the conservation and agricultural science community.

Marginal land survey at ASFWB

Today and tomorrow, Simon Greenland-Smith is in Cape Breton for the 52nd meeting of the Atlantic Society of Fish and Wildlife Biologists. He is talking about the Marginal Land survey, which is currently winding up with a ~37% response rate, remarkable for a summer/fall survey of farmers and above our goal of 33%. In the past few years, I or individuals from my lab have comprised the only social science contributions to this event, but this year I note a presentation about a Bird Studies Canada survey on farmer perceptions of aerial insectivores. Many other presentations relate to the Big Meadow Bog restoration project at Brier Island, and its various elements.

Normal distribution in action

Response rate after the fourth Marginal Land survey reminder.

Response rate after the fourth Marginal Land survey reminder.

We are sitting well after our fourth Marginal Land Management survey mailout, with around 370 returned of the thousand sent. Above is a nice example of normal distribution in action, being the bump in responses by day after that last reminder. Today the final postcard is going out. Not all 370 were completed, as there is an option to tick ‘do not wish to participate’, but we do expect to meet our target of 33% completed by the time the final wave has passed. We are pleased, given the time of year when we have had to implement (the result of funding horizon), and the nice dry weather that has characterized it, meaning farmers have many demands on their time. Kudos to Simon Greenland-Smith for great management of this process.

Reclaiming headpond history

An old road dissolves into the Mactaquac headpond on the Nackawic Nature Trail

An old road dissolves into the Mactaquac headpond on the Nackawic Nature Trail

When I was a child in Nackawic, New Brunswick, I remember going on walks with my Mom to a place I called the castle. My mother was aware that these were not castles but old basements or farm outbuildings, abandoned when farmers were forced to move before the Mactaquac Dam headpond was flooded in the late 1960s, but she did not ruin my fun. To get there we had to clamber down over a guardrail, and down a rocky ravine at the outflow of a culvert. As I got older I went there with friends, and then alone, attracted by that hint of history (much more recent than I realized). It was not a history that was discussed with children when I was young (or we didn’t listen).

I am very pleased to see that the town of Nackawic – itself constructed to house the relocated families as well as new families attracted by work at the pulp and paper mill constructed to use the new energy – has reclaimed the story. In the late 1990s, a ‘Nackawic Rural Experience’ walk was created along the shoreline, now the Nackawic Nature Trail, including explanatory plaques on old structures, and other evidence of what was once there, including roads into the water and fruit trees like quince that were likely once in farmhouse gardens. We did the two-kilometer walk last week when on holiday in the area. It is much overgrown since I played there, but beautiful and also melancholic. It is interesting to see how much more focused the town is today on the headpond frontage as an asset; this is emblematic of some of our observations of changing perspectives in our research on connections to the headpond through time.

The 'castle', actually an old potato house.

The ‘castle’, actually an old potato house.

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