Farming in the 21st Century: A Documentary Photography Project

1994 Annual Report for SW94-054

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1994: $27,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1994
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:

Farming in the 21st Century: A Documentary Photography Project



1. Document the impact of sustainable agriculture on farm families and communities that can be used to enhance biological research and assist in the research of social scientists.
2. Aid in major image-building for the family farm system of agriculture and provide an opportunity for all members of a farm family unit and farmer cooperators to have a voice in the rural social process.
3. Provide a multi-component project which will identify specific local, state and regional agricultural issues and determine particular educational needs, yet also create a vehicle for broad dissemination.
4. Utilize regional farmer cooperators, community leaders and faculty to benefit discussion, networking and the development of this project.
5. Attract funding from federal and non-federal sources.
6. Accelerate the transfer of information on alternative agriculture systems, as well as further the developmental and publicity goals of SARE at both a regional and national level.
7. Celebrate the successes of sustainable agriculture at the local and regional levels as well as the national level.

Abstract of Results

The major purpose of this project has been to document the human content of SARE-supported research projects since the inception of the program. The most significant contribution of this project are the anthropological research tools: black and white photographs and "life histories." Various configurations of the research data are available to be used to inform farmers, researchers and the public about the value of human resources in on-site farm research projects. Already, the illustrations of the quality of life dimension of agro-ecosystems through photographs and personal stories suggest it is possible for a wide range of citizens to study the impact of agricultural sustainability on the rural social process. Through real-life experiences of farm families and operators who are striving to manage whole-systems agriculture, SARE activities in the western region have been clearly communicated.

Criteria for the first year of funding was to document six or seven SARE-supported projects in the Western region. After discussions with communications specialist Kristen Kelleher, advisor David Schlegel and coordinator Philip Rasmussen, it was decided that nine projects would be documented. The selected projects are: SARE #91-26, grape production, California; SARE #91-23, farmer clubs, Montana; SARE #89-14, dryland cereal, Montana; SARE #88-1, sustainable agriculture resources and networking, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Montana; ACE #93-11, dairy, Oregon; SARE #93-34, Navajo Nation sheep project; SARE #91-30, rural development for farmworkers, California; SARE #93-33, Conservation Reserve Program land conversion, New Mexico; SARE #91-28, peach production, California.

Site visits were scheduled between the end of May and the middle of September. After visiting the nine identified projects, a meeting with Kristen Kelleher, Jill Auburn and David Schlegel was held to review contact sheets of photographs. *Since September about 210, 8" by 10" black and white photographs have been printed. All 34 interviews have been outlined for critical content.

The methodology implemented in this project is an effective tool for documentation and accountability of SARE research projects. I recommend the continuation and ongoing development of an institutionalized vehicle that brings project investigators, scientists, farm advisors, extension agents, university faculties and policy makers closer to the human resources involved in SARE research and education.

Reported in 1996