Individuals, organisations, and local context shaping small-scale agricultural initiatives addressing sustainability : two case studies in Hawke's Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Agriculture & Environment at Massey University, Manawatū, Aotearoa
Experts have recognised agricultural land-use is in need of transformative change to become sustainable while feeding the world population. In this thesis it is assumed based on changing regulation, literature, and media coverage there is an on-going agricultural sustainability transition in Aotearoa New Zealand. Scholars highlighted the potential of local initiatives to address sustainability issues in locally fitting ways. The role of initiatives collectively driving transformative change has been studied in sustainability transitions literature. However, how individual initiatives are being shaped at the level of individuals and initiatives has not been studied extensively.
To inform people seeking to support agricultural initiatives navigating sustainability transitions, this thesis answers the research question: How are agricultural initiatives seeking to address local sustainability being shaped in the context of a sustainability transition?
After a scoping phase to identify agricultural sustainability initiatives, two agricultural initiatives addressing local sustainability in which farmers and local government were involved, were selected and studied.
Insights into how these initiatives were being shaped revealed forces associated with an ongoing transition were experienced at the individual level in both cases and shaped the initiatives through mechanisms including funding requirements and expertise. Local contexts being defined by strained historical relationships in the first case and challenged practices in the second shaped how boundary objects emerged in their functions. It also shaped the role of the intermediary that had a role to mediate relationships in the second case. Relationships with organisations in both initiatives were embodied by individuals and personal relationships shaped their roles in initiatives. Personal attributes of individuals were found to shape those roles as well as the involvement of farmers and the role of the intermediary.
This thesis exposes a rich field of enquiry at the level of individuals and initiatives in sustainability transitions that can be further explored by conducting additional research into small scale initiatives navigating sustainability transitions in agricultural contexts as well as other fields. More insights into this micro-level of sustainability transitions may assist organisations in their efforts to support small scale initiatives navigating a sustainability transition.