Starting from the ground - the transformative potential of grassroots movements towards sustainability : Imagining and practicing permaculture at Kosters Trädgårdar, Sweden
Abstract: This thesis examines the transformative potential of grassroots movements for sustainability and thus asks how citizen-led initiatives can contribute the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda. In focus is the permaculture movement and its efforts to promote small-scale farming in balance with ecological systems and principles. The study draws upon an ethnographic study of the permaculture farm Kosters Trädgårdar, located on the west coast of Sweden. Through extended participant observation and four interviews with owners and workers at Kosters Trädgårdar, this thesis seeks to identify the transformative visions, practices and agents mobilized by the permaculture movement. Although permaculture has a strong ecological heritage and is closely tied to small-scale farming practices, this study identifies a shift in the meaning of the term as explained hereafter. The experiences of Kosters Trädgårdar indicate that the cultivation of social community and alternative livelihoods is an equally important aspect of the permaculture movement that holds significant transformative potential. By inviting multiple actors to participate in and learn from the farming practices, and to enjoy and socialize around ecological food, Kosters Trädgårdar is effectively building local community and spreading its visions of sustainable food production beyond the circuits of the farm. Although we should not over-estimate the upscaling potential of local experiences, this permaculture farm emerges as a site of grassroot innovation, experimentation and learning and may hereby function as a testbed for the grand transformative visions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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