Farming value beyond the economic: cases of social innovation through Controlled Environment Agriculture in New York

Presented by Wythe Marschall, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University / Research associate, Cornell University

This talk examines the production of different social values by a network of agricultural technology entrepreneurs in greater New York City. I document how farmer–entrepreneurs relate agricultural practices such as hydroponics to claims about what makes a food “good,” and what makes a vision for the future of urban dwelling sustainable or just. I argue that, since few Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technologies are of recent invention, the novelty that my interlocutors produce is primarily social in nature—such as business models, imaginaries regarding urban future, and relations with consumers, including how consumers understand the category of “local,” plant nutrition, and the vocation of the farmer.

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