Suburban agriculture, immigrant farmers, and access to agricultural services and resources
Keywords:Suburban Agriculture, Chinese Immigrant Farmers, Farming Experiences, Agricultural Services and Resources, Qualitative Research, Liability of Newness, Descriptive Phenomenology
While agricultural services are shrinking, the number of nontraditional farms run by immigrant farmers is rising in U.S. suburban regions. This study attempts to understand Chinese immigrant farmers’ experience accessing agricultural services and resources in the New York metropolitan area and explores the need for changes in agricultural services to meet changing demand. Thirteen Chinese immigrant farmers in the region were recruited to participate in a semi-structured interview to understand their shared experiences of accessing agricultural services and resources. The study identified diverse ways of accessing agricultural services and resources in four critical areas of farming operations: agricultural technology, financial services, farm labor, and farming machinery; and also revealed the existence of “liability of newness” among those new immigrant farmers in operating farms. Most participants felt that they were isolated, with limited access to available services as new immigrant farmers, which constitutes the liabilities to their success in farming. Language barriers, cultural differences, distrust, and isolation were the main obstacles to access adequate services and resources. As farms and farmers are becoming more diverse in U.S. suburban regions, the provision of agricultural services needs to adapt accordingly to meet the growing needs of groups of farmers with varying farming experiences and demographic backgrounds and help them to overcome the liabilities as new immigrant farmers. This study contributes to understanding the farming experiences of minority farm groups, which help develop more inclusive agricultural services.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Lin Xie, Zeyuan Qiu, Mei R. Fu
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