My Perspective on Agroecology

I am an activist scholar in the field of agroecology. Activist scholarship is “the production of knowledge and pedagogical practices through active engagements with, and in the service of, progressive social movements”.1 A commitment to action means that knowledge is “embodied rather than discursive,” and that scholars offer outside knowledge to activists who are already experts in particular realms of knowledge.2 Bridging the worlds of scholars and activists offer unique opportunities for the production of “emancipatory knowledge and pedagogy.” 3

My activist scholarship is informed by over 15 years of engagement in agroecology as a researcher, educator, farmer, student, and community organizer. The focus of agroecology has increasingly broadened from ecological processes in farmers’ fields to critical examinations of food systems.4 For La Vía Campesina, agroecology goes beyond ecological principles of food production to social, cultural, and political principles.5

Agroecology is a transdiscipline that transgresses disciplinary silos and that emphasizes action-oriented approaches.6 Cuéllar-Padilla and Calle-Collado7 identify science with people to be a guiding approach to agroecology. At the farm scale, “more sustainable and resilient farming can emerge from better listening and integration of the practitioners’ way of knowing with the structured experiments of agronomists.”8 More generally, the inclusion of stakeholders provides space for oversight and democratic control over the conditions of knowledge production.9