Cultural Factors Impacting Food Sustainability Initiatives in the New River Valley, Virginia
The need for developing an alternative, viable agricultural base for southwest Virginia is critical. This Appalachian subregion has relied on agriculture as a major source of income for generations. Nevertheless, traditional farming relying on such cash crops as tobacco and livestock are no longer viable economic assets for sustainability. Students will explore field research methods, oral historical methods, and how to engage in a cultural analysis of their data while working with local farmers in the New River Valley, Virginia, counties of Montgomery, Craig, Giles, and Floyd, in an effort to obtain data that will illuminate why some farmers are reluctant or refusing to engage in alternative practices and to suggest how to approach the problem of change from a cultural perspective. In addition to working directly with farmers, students will also explore issues related to the relationship between agriculture and culture as well as food sustainability as it relates to sustainability in Appalachia more generally. Results will be shared with Appalachian Sustainable Development (Abingdon, VA), which will be involved in the project, in order to facilitate future partnerships to promote more efficient distribution of produce.
Anita Puckett, Ph.D.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
133 Lane Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Previous Participation: 2009