University of Vermont


International Updates

As part of a seed grant from the Gund Institute, ARLG lab members are assessing the potential of agroecological management to support food system and climate resilience in smallholder coffee farms in the Americas.

Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group

International Research & Projects

International research from the ARLG lab focuses on working with smallholder famers and the landscapes that they inhabit. Most of this work has concentrated in communities of smallholder coffee farmers across Mesoamerica, but we are always interested in supporting small-scale farmers and their cooperatives worldwide. Our projects integrate research, teaching and outreach related to agroecology to address and resolve socioeconomic and environmental challenges. We utilize a transdisciplinary approach and mixed methods to analyze the social and ecological impacts and benefits that are generated when agriculture, people's livelihoods, and nature co-exist. 

Advancing Trandisciplinary and Participatory Action Research (PAR) in Agroecology 
This on-going endeavor seeks to critically examine and advance agroecology's evolution and application as a transdisciplinary and participatory action research (PAR) approach. Although the field has embraced a transdisciplinary and participatory focus since its inception, our efforts aim to more explicitly incorporate these perspectives into research and applications of agroecology. Since 2011, and with the help of close collaborators, the ARLG has led a series of publications that bring together important voices supporting this approach. The resulting publications include a special issue in the journal Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (2013), which was translated into a special issue, in Spanish, for the journal Agroecologia (2013), and the recently published book Agroecology: a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach (2016).


Agroecology and resilience in smallholder coffee landscapes of Mesoamerica and Haiti

mixed crop landscape

This highly collaborative initiative involves partners like Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Bioversity International, ICRAF, Hivos and CEDECO (Costa Rican NGO) to address challenges and opportunities to strengthen the resilience of smallholder coffee farmers and their families as they face challenges that range from the local to the global. Although much of this work addresses climate change, we are also examining other factors, such as food sovereignty, coffee price volatility, social networks and others.

A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach to Assess Monitoring and Evaluation in a Farmer Research Network (FRN) of Bolivia

In this project we are partnerign with the McKnight Foundation's Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) to examine the challenges and opportunities of Farmer Research Networks in a smallholder organic peanut farmer cooperative of Bolivia.

Exploring agrobiodiversity, food sovereignty and climate change with smallholder coffee farmers in Mesoamerica - Chiapas, Mexico and Northern Nicaragua (Margarita Fernandez)


In recent years a wide range of actors from academics to development organizations to research institutions and social movement actors have argued that high levels of agrobiodiversity are positively correlated with household food security, as well as increased capacity to mitigate and adapt to social and environmental change, including climate change. However, there remains little empirical data to support this. PhD candidate Margarita Fernandez is exploring the relationship between agrobiodiversity, food sovereignty and climate change by collecting quantitative and qualitative socio-ecological data among small farmers who balance subsistence and coffee production in Chiapas, Mexico, and northern Nicaragua. Preliminary data from Mexico shows that farmers who have greater diversity of edible plant and livestock species experience decreased seasonal food shortages and have higher levels of dietary diversity. The results of Margarita's research will identify best practices for food security and food sovereignty in order to assist farmers, coffee cooperatives and development organizations in designing future development strategies. These strategies will be based on diversified practices that are locally successful, locally appropriate and contribute to agrobiodiversity conservation and resilience to climate change.

Last modified December 23 2015 11:54 AM

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