Presentation Title

Identifying the Capacities for Resilience on the Fairfield Bench, Montana: A Case Study

Authors' Names

Anne Harney

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Agricultural systems can be understood as social-ecological systems (SES), in which humans and the natural world interact with and influence each other. Elements of SESs, which include ecological, cultural, economic, and governance components, are considered together and integrated as one system rather than simply separate components of the whole. The study of SES focuses on the feedback loops and the synergies among the interacting elements, emphasizing the complexity and non-linear relationships of the system. Research regarding SES has increased over the past several decades as our ecological, political, and economic systems have become more global and more connected.

The concept of resilience within SES has gained considerable attention in recent years. Resilience is generally defined as the system’s ability to absorb and adapt to stressors while still maintaining a similar functioning state. Agricultural systems in the United States are facing major current and future challenges, including climate change, resource availability, economic market instability, and an aging workforce. These challenges could severely impact our food supply and result in far-reaching consequences, such as price increases and food shortages. Because of these major challenges, social-ecological resilience within agricultural systems is a critical concept to study, analyze, and understand.

However, despite the abundance of research on social-ecological resilience, there are relatively few studies that attempt to understand resilience within a particular context. Numerous papers attempt to define or determine measurement parameters for resilience; however, this fails to recognize the context-specific nature of resilience and instead attempts to apply a rigid framework to resilience research.

My research will fill this gap by providing a place-based case study of resilience in a rural agricultural community in Montana known as the Fairfield Bench. Farmers on the Fairfield Bench mainly grow malt barley for major brewing companies and are facing a number of challenges, including an aging irrigation infrastructure, climate change, unstable markets, and water quality concerns. In this study, I will use a social-ecological systems framework developed by Elinor Ostrom to identify and analyze the multiple interacting variables that exist on the Fairfield Bench. I will identify three key variables that are experiencing challenges or disturbances and use these variables as discussion points in interviews with malt barley farmers. Through these interviews, I will gather qualitative data that will identify the capacities for resilience that exist in this social-ecological system from the perspective of the farmers that live on and work the land. These capacities may include resources, assets, or abilities that the farmers possess that enable them to respond to and persist in the face of disturbances or challenges within the social-ecological system. By taking a place-based and contextual approach, I will explore how resilience on the Fairfield Bench is shaped by the dynamic processes of this agricultural system and extend the existing research that attempts to understand the concept of social-ecological resiliency in practice. In the presentation, a review of the relevant literature and methods for data collection will be presented and discussed.

Mentor Name

Neva Hassanein

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Feb 22nd, 11:40 AM Feb 22nd, 11:55 AM

Identifying the Capacities for Resilience on the Fairfield Bench, Montana: A Case Study

UC 330

Agricultural systems can be understood as social-ecological systems (SES), in which humans and the natural world interact with and influence each other. Elements of SESs, which include ecological, cultural, economic, and governance components, are considered together and integrated as one system rather than simply separate components of the whole. The study of SES focuses on the feedback loops and the synergies among the interacting elements, emphasizing the complexity and non-linear relationships of the system. Research regarding SES has increased over the past several decades as our ecological, political, and economic systems have become more global and more connected.

The concept of resilience within SES has gained considerable attention in recent years. Resilience is generally defined as the system’s ability to absorb and adapt to stressors while still maintaining a similar functioning state. Agricultural systems in the United States are facing major current and future challenges, including climate change, resource availability, economic market instability, and an aging workforce. These challenges could severely impact our food supply and result in far-reaching consequences, such as price increases and food shortages. Because of these major challenges, social-ecological resilience within agricultural systems is a critical concept to study, analyze, and understand.

However, despite the abundance of research on social-ecological resilience, there are relatively few studies that attempt to understand resilience within a particular context. Numerous papers attempt to define or determine measurement parameters for resilience; however, this fails to recognize the context-specific nature of resilience and instead attempts to apply a rigid framework to resilience research.

My research will fill this gap by providing a place-based case study of resilience in a rural agricultural community in Montana known as the Fairfield Bench. Farmers on the Fairfield Bench mainly grow malt barley for major brewing companies and are facing a number of challenges, including an aging irrigation infrastructure, climate change, unstable markets, and water quality concerns. In this study, I will use a social-ecological systems framework developed by Elinor Ostrom to identify and analyze the multiple interacting variables that exist on the Fairfield Bench. I will identify three key variables that are experiencing challenges or disturbances and use these variables as discussion points in interviews with malt barley farmers. Through these interviews, I will gather qualitative data that will identify the capacities for resilience that exist in this social-ecological system from the perspective of the farmers that live on and work the land. These capacities may include resources, assets, or abilities that the farmers possess that enable them to respond to and persist in the face of disturbances or challenges within the social-ecological system. By taking a place-based and contextual approach, I will explore how resilience on the Fairfield Bench is shaped by the dynamic processes of this agricultural system and extend the existing research that attempts to understand the concept of social-ecological resiliency in practice. In the presentation, a review of the relevant literature and methods for data collection will be presented and discussed.