Farmer Engagement with Regenerative Agriculture in New England: Understanding Barriers and Facilitators to Improve Services and Outreach

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $13,913.00
Projected End Date: 08/05/2024
Grant Recipient: Boston College
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Brian Gareau
Boston College


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, free-range, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, grazing management, other, pasture fertility, preventive practices, rangeland/pasture management

    Proposal abstract:

    For New England to reach its great potential for an economically, culturally, and ecologically resilient argifood system, we must begin by actively supporting local farmers working toward regenerative agriculture (RA). While RA has many definitions, it is best understood as an approach that purposefully integrates agricultural production with complex and biodiverse ecological landscapes, especially beginning with complex soil agroecosystems. The RA movement is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as the environmental, economic, and social benefits of RA systems become more widely acknowledged. The purpose of this project is to support the RA movement through providing extension agencies, agricultural organizations, and policy makers with in-depth insight into the facilitators and barriers faced by New England farmers as they engage with RA at the farm level. I thus ask: How do farmers in New England come to adopt the practices and perspectives associated with RA? What barriers and facilitators do New England farmers face as they act to implement RA? To answer these questions, I apply a qualitative social scientific approach, including interview and ethnographic observation data, designed to highlight farmer voices, experiences, and perspectives. Data collection and analysis is further driven by a framework drawn from the subfield of environmental sociology, known as the “sociological imagination,” that is particularly useful for approaching complex social and ecological topics. The rich qualitative data gathered during this project will highlight opportunities for farmer support and provide a valuable resource in the development of future agricultural science and social scientific research instruments.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Gather rich and reliable data on why and how New England farmers are engaging with RA, especially in regard to the barriers and facilitators they are facing.
    2. Ensure reliable and transparent data analysis and presentation.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.