Heritage, resilience and biosecurity: challenges and opportunities in the revival of historic farming and food production

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: Inst of Geography and Earth Sciences


The aim of this research project is to identify and explore the barriers and opportunities of a pioneering, experimental renaissance in historical forms of agricultural production and food processing. Contemporary food production is dominated by large scale, standardised practices which value yield, efficiency and cost saving over diversity, innovation and individual autonomy. Industrialised, mass food production is characterised by homogeneity, from monoculture crops and highly mechanised farming methods to centralised food processing and distribution systems. This set up has low resilience and limited flexibility making it highly susceptible to risk, with the potential for a single problem to cause a cascade of failures throughout the system.
The incentive to explore alternative food pathways is driven by a wide range of factors, from convictions that the current system is unsustainable in both environmental and economic terms to cultural and societal beliefs that we should be more connected to where our food comes from. The aim of this project is to explore how heritage is being utilised by pioneering groups to address food system resilience and biosecurity, and to examine the ways in which people are looking to the past in order to build sustainable futures. The project will explore the activities of pioneering groups in heritage revival and the opportunities these initiatives represent in terms of resilience, alternative food production and biosecurity. It will also identify the challenges, specifically policy constraints, met by these groups and how they are negotiating these in order to achieve their aims within an infrastructure which is only slowly acknowledging that such small enterprises and experimental endeavours need support.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1100642 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2026 Isabel Joan Parry