Elise Wach is a researcher and community food producer, based in Frome, Somerset (South West England). She considers herself a ‘critical participant’ of the agroecology and food sovereignty movements. She is a co-founder of Frome Field to Fork, which aims to reconnect people with their food and strengthen Frome’s local food system. She also serves a Research Advisor at the Institute of Development Studies, where she has facilitated farmer-centred participatory research and is embarking on new research related to property rights and policy related to agriculture, food and trade. She recently completed her PhD at CAWR and this seminar will share a portion of her doctoral research findings.
The agroecology movement has pitted itself against industrial agriculture, and more recently has indicated a need to consider not just production processes but also consumption, in a ‘food systems’ approach. Based on a historical analysis in the Scottish uplands, this presentation argues that agroecological food systems are not feasible within a capitalist society. It demonstrates that the transition to capitalism in the Scottish uplands led to a departure from agroecological food systems, both in the uplands themselves and in the lowlands and abroad. This case of the Scottish uplands, where agricultural practice is not considered industrial but is definitively counter to the principles of an agroecological food system, indicates the need for the agroecology movement to explicitly challenge the capitalist social property relations which drive the commodification of agriculture.