Establishment of the Journal
In an online survey conducted by New Leaf Associates in the summer of 2009 regarding the proposed new journal, the over 1,200 survey respondents strongly endorsed our proposed concept of an applied journal with a focus on the interests of practitioners, farmers, students, and applied researchers, both in the U.S. and abroad. By practitioners we mean the staff of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, consultants, and others who are on the frontier of agriculture and food systems development.
The respondents reported a wide range of interests across the entire spectrum of the food system. However, given the pre-existance of both academic and applied journals in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and food security, we are intentionally narrowing the focus of the journal to the core of activities in the food system where producers and residents interact or share keen interests: new farming opportunities, farmland protection, public policy, value chains and distribution systems, local food marketing strategies and campaigns, and many related economic and community development activities. The Journal's niche can be seen discerned among the lists of example topics below.
This list shows a range of sample topics across the food system, with the top third focused on production-oriented issues, and the bottom third focused on consumption-oriented issues. This new journal will focus more on the middle third (in green) — what we refer to as "core themes."
Of course, the list is simply a heuristic devise. We acknowledge that all of these topics, and many others, are interlinked in a complex web — as opposed to a linear structure as is depicted above. The topics in the center can be contextually linked to purely production or consumption topics. Furthermore, we recognize our core topical area is linked to many critical nonfood system issues, including employment, a region's economic base, income, cultural issues, energy, environmental degradation, politics, global trade, and other topics. We hope that papers submitted can reflect this complexity by embedding the specific crore theme issues and opportunities within larger contexts such as these.
Articles accepted for peer review by the Journal can focus on the agriculture and food systems development core themes entirely, or can focus on other noncore themes, as long as at least one of the core themes is still an important part of the paper. A paper on an urban community canning network that sources local products, for example, can focus on the benefits to member canners, but should also provide a roughly equal measure of details on the relationship and benefits to local producers. In this case, the system, not just the social or nutritional benefits, should be highlighted. The concept of core themes, then, provides a general guideline for the journal content — not a strict set of rules.
Within a theme, papers may concentrate on a wide range of contextual subjects, including but not limited to:
The term "agriculture development" has long been the purview of international development agencies operating in the nonindustrialized world. However, as practitioners and scholars alike pointed out in their responses to our survey, despite the distances and differences in culture, we share a number of challenges and we have much to teach one another. A mobile farmers' market or a new generation cooperative, for example, may be useful in any country. That said, the respondents leaned toward having the Journal focus on agriculture and food systems in "modern societies," with the occasional paper focusing on shared interests with the nonindustrialized world.
Agriculture and Food Systems Development has several kindred fields:
Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.
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