Finding value in an alternative caring food network : a study of how localised regenerative small-scale growers can build social value in our food system : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts - Human Geography, Massey University, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Through its significant dairy farming sector, Taranaki epitomises modernised food production and distribution within a global food system. Alongside this, a burgeoning community of small-scale growers exist who do not aspire to large scales or optimised profitability. These growers support localised food production, diversity in distribution, regenerative practices, and caring social values. I argue they are fundamentally 'resocialising' food in a way that enhances social, cultural and economic values, and are creating wellbeing for local communities through an ethic of care. There is little literature regarding the social attributes of food grown by small-scale growers for local consumption. This thesis aims to contribute to that body of work by offering an ethnographic account of small-scale growers. I argue that these growers build and strengthen a sense of community thereby creating an interconnected web of organised care relationships that form a 'meshwork', connecting people to place within Taranaki. I will show that understanding the relationship between people and food procurement goes beyond a financial exchange, disentangling food from a global food system where it may be 'food from nowhere' to situating it in a localised setting where through processes of resocialisation, it becomes 'food from somewhere' (McMichael, 2016). However, despite creating positive social values, small-scale growers struggle to hold their space within the global food system because they are frequently deprioritised, undervalued, or unrecognised. This thesis concludes by showing Taranaki’s regenerative small-scale growers are able to create a meshwork of food production and distribution that resocialises food through values of care.
global food system, small-scale growers, regenerative food system, ethic of care, meshwork, local food systems