Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Environmental and Urban Studies
Project Advisor 1
Project Advisor 2
Organic and otherwise ecologically sustainable farming methods are generally known to be more labor intensive, largely due to the lack of synthetic herbicides and pesticides. The ways in which such a labor demand might be met has not been the focus of many studies.There is some evidence that suggests that forms of unpaid or reduced pay alternative labor might help meet this extra demand on small sustainable farms. Using a content analysis of thirteen farmer interviews in Upstate New York, this paper will review the possible roles of unpaid and alternative labor on organic farms, as well as their potential pitfalls. Farmer responses varied depending on the type of labor employed; while volunteer labor was considered economically beneficial, most of the farmers that used alternative labor in the form of reduced wage or unpaid apprenticeship noted that hired labor would be a more efficient labor source. Regardless of how integral unpaid laborers were to the functioning of the farms, all of the farmers stressed that they were more interested in reaping the social benefits of alternative labor than the economic benefits. These social benefits include but are not limited to: emotional support, the dissemination of sustainable farming ideas and knowledge sharing. The results of this study will be discussed in the context of recent literature that legally and ethically problematizes such labor.
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Avital, Abigail, "The Role of Unpaid and Alternative Labor on Organic and Sustainability-oriented Farms" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 160.