Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines the cultivation of knowledge, nature, and farmers in U.S. alternative agriculture. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Hudson Valley of New York and Central Appalachia, I trace the movement of knowledge across prominent training guides, educational workshops, and apprenticeship programs designed to train the next generation of sustainable farmers. I argue that the knowledge communities of alternative agriculture (strive to) transmit not only technical capacity—the ability to productively farm sustainability—but also holistic ways of understanding the natural world and the human place in it. In doing so practitioners of alternative agriculture gain autonomy from the political-economic and ideological enclosures of chemical-intensive, productivist farming. Research findings offer important theoretical contributions on the dynamics of agricultural knowledge and the transformation of human/environmental relationships across agrarian landscapes. They also offer practical contributions to the alternative agricultural sector and movements for food sovereignty. In all, alternative farmers, and the knowledge communities they foster, offer a vital lens into the possibilities and limits of efforts to cultivate more livable worlds.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Glenn D Stone

Committee Members

John Bowen


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Available for download on Friday, August 23, 2024