Are Farmers an Endangered Species?: New and Beginning Farmers Forging New Communities of Support between Rural and Urban Consumers
This item is part of: Boarin, P., Haarhoff, E., Manfredini, M., Mohammadzadeh, M., Premier, A., (2021). Rethinking Sustainable Pacific Rim Territories. Proceedings of the 2020 APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub PhD Symposium, Future Cities Research Hub, School of Architecture and Planning of the University of Auckland. ISBN: 978-0-473-53616-9
Japan’s aging and declining farming population continues to exacerbate the decline of rural regions. As a response, there have been strong efforts from governments and local organizations to provide avenues of support for new and beginning farmers via a certification process which provides access to funding and subsidized loans. While the Ministry of Fisheries, Forests, and Agriculture (MAFF) promotes SDG Goal 2 under the premise of sustainable agriculture through Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and grants for environmentally friendly farming, this does not directly extend to supporting new farmers who hold strong interest in farming sustainably. Based on semi-structured interviews with farmers and government officials in Shiga Prefecture, we observe strong trends of new entry farmer collaborations and community building such as hosting unique opportunities for urban consumers to participate in agricultural activities, engaging with their surrounding rural residents to help uplift their region’s rural revitalization efforts, and building organizations and spaces for mutual support. The spaces of connection and relationship building that this current generation of new farmers is bridging between rural and urban areas provides insights on how best to support the future of rural areas and more holistically promote sustainable agriculture. New and beginning farmers especially those who promote sustainable agriculture serve critical roles in reshaping rural communities as they build capacity for solidarity between rural and urban areas.