Publication Details

Klocker, N., Head, L., Dun, O. & Spaven, T. (2018). Experimenting with agricultural diversity: Migrant knowledge as a resource for climate change adaptation. Journal of Rural Studies, 57 13-24.


Climate change poses serious challenges for agriculture and adaptation to its impacts is widely understood to be necessary - now and into the future. This paper focuses on Australia's horticulturally productive and culturally diverse Sunraysia region. Due to the high seasonal labour demands of horticulture, this region has a large population of temporary and permanent migrants. Many were farmers in their countries of origin. We bring together literature on climate change adaptation in agriculture, and migration and agriculture, to identify a common theme: experimentation. The former emphasises the need for experimentation in uncertain times, and the latter draws attention to the experimental food growing capacities of migrants. We argue that migrant farmers' desire to grow culturally important crops in their post-migration contexts, alongside their experience with diverse environmental conditions, constitute a poorly recognised adaptive resource. When migrants have access to farmland to demonstrate their agricultural capacities, migration can expand the suite of adaptive options available. This paper draws these experimental threads together, alongside empirical evidence gathered from qualitative research in the Sunraysia region. We conclude by describing an experimental, action-oriented project which seeks to explore what happens when migrant farmers are, quite literally, given the space to show the broader community what they know and what they can do.

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