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Building diverse community networks for sustainable food systems: Guiding philosophies of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2009

Laura M. Carnes
Affiliation:
Recent master's of science graduate of the Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
Heather D. Karsten
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department, 116 ASI Bldg, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.
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Abstract

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is a grassroots organization that facilitates the exchange of sustainable farming practices among its members, creates marketing opportunities for local farmers, and promotes consumer awareness and support for sustainable agriculture. Interviews with PASA's board members and staff, content analyses of PASA's literature, and a mail survey and spatial analysis of PASA's members—who include both farmers and members who do not farm—were used to examine members' characteristics, why they value being members, and the philosophies and strategies that guide the organization's successes. Results indicate that by embracing a broad definition of sustainable agriculture, PASA promotes profitable and environmentally sound farming practices to a diversity of farmers. Networking with a broad cross-section of local and regional organizations and institutions has enabled PASA to use the expertise of community leaders and share fundraising to develop marketing opportunities for farmers. Linking sustainable agriculture with priorities of community economic development has brought farmers to urban planning tables, increased inner city access to fresh, local food, and increased the economic viability of local farmers. PASA's experiences exemplify the opportunities and tensions involved with networking with mainstream institutions to gain greater support for the sustainable agriculture community. PASA provides one model of how sustainable agriculture organizations can play an integral role in supporting sustainable agriculture.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2003

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