Paul Swagemakers, M. Dolores Domínguez García, Xavier Simón Fernández, and Johannes S. C. Wiskerke (2012): ‘Unfolding Farm Practices: Working Toward Sustainable Food Production in the Netherlands and Spain’, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 2(2) pp. 129–145



The modernization of agriculture has caused and continues to cause an increasing disconnection between farming, nature, and society, which has also created a series of social, economic, and ecological crises in the food chain. Case study research of farmers responding to this situation can show us what changes are required to encourage a reconnection between farming, nature, and society. This paper provides ethnographic case study research of two farms: one situated in a productive polder in the Netherlands, and the other in a disadvantaged mountainous area in Galicia, Spain. They both employ “novelty production,” farmer-driven adaptations to the farm, seen as a socio-ecological system. These novelties change the input-output relations on farms and result in adaptations in different farming domains (technical, economic, and socio-organizational), which we see as “unfolding” farming practices. This paper examines how these farmers have sustained and improved the socio-ecological performance of their farms and how these changes have led to a shift in the farm as a socio-ecological system and changed the configuration and boundaries of the farms. In conclusion we look at prospects for this approach being supported at a wider level.