• Farmer Training Program instructor gives overview of plantings to students in the field

Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative

The Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative (ALC) is a community of practice at the University of Vermont, which utilizes an approach grounded in agroecology, participatory action research (PAR) and transdisciplinarity. Our goal is to better understand and seek solutions to the issues facing our food systems.


To co-create evidence and knowledge, with farmers and other actors, to cultivate socially just and ecologically sound food systems.


We envision local, regional and global food systems that support human and ecological health, social equity and inclusion


  • Our research seeks to integrate academic disciplines with real world knowledge to seek solutions to pressing global challenges through a transdisciplinary food systems focus.
  • Our work actively integrates the voices of relevant actors through a process of inquiry and reflection that leads to tangible action (i.e. Participatory Action Research, or PAR).
  • We are open and collaborative, actively inviting the participation of a diversity of actors in our research, education and outreach activities.
  • We prioritize supporting smallholder farmers to become protagonists in agroecologically driven food systems.

Jeep parked next to chicken coop


We perceive agroecology as an approach that seeks to integrate ecological science with other academic disciplines (e.g. agronomy, sociology, history, etc.) and knowledge systems (e.g. local, indigenous, etc.) to guide research and actions towards the sustainable transformation of our current agrifood system.

Ernesto Mendez with his research team atttending the May 2019 Coffee Expo in Mexico

Participatory Action Research

The thread connects our work across the areas of agriculture, livelihoods, and environmental conservation in tropical and temperate rural landscapes is the application of Participatory Action Research (PAR). We see PAR as an approach that enables both the process and results of research to have direct impact on social and ecological issues.

Students weeding vegetable beds

Community of Practice

The ALC works as a ‘community of practice’, broadly defined as collaborative engagement in a process of mutual learning about an area of interest. We bring together a dynamic collective of faculty, research staff, graduate students and undergraduate students, extensionists, farmers, and other professionals. As a people-centered group, we aim to support and nourish our members to reach their highest potential. In turn, we expect them to work hard and contribute to our community to the best of their abilities.