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Ben Taylor ’10: Small Farms and Sustainability: A Case Study in Madison County, New York

By Upstate Institute on July 1, 2010

Submitted to the Department of Geography for Honors

Small farms in the United States have undergone many significant changes throughout history. Today, small farm agricultural systems are being proposed as a more sustainable form of agriculture. This paper defines sustainability in the context of agriculture, and then examines how it is being embraced by small farm owners.

Two “buzzwords” in food systems are “organic” and “local.” Both of these terms are considered with regard to small farm systems and sustainability. A case study in Madison County, New York provides a qualitative assessment of attitudes held by farmers with regard to sustainability. It is found that sustainability is best defined as being comprised of three “pillars”: social, economic, and environmental. Small farm systems may be more focused on the social and economic factors; however, these are often driving forces behind the environmental.

Download the paper to learn more.

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