Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Dr. Tony Weis


Given limits to fossil energy and the need to reduce agriculture’s atmospheric impact, there is a need to increasingly re-insert human labour for machines and inputs in agricultural landscapes like those in Ontario. At the same time, Ontario has a small, declining, and aging farming population, which implies that rebuilding its labour force means moving against forbidding trends, including having people from non-farm backgrounds seek agricultural livelihoods. This thesis explores the emerging 'seams' that mark this transition, analysing the interpretations and lived experiences of 36 participants from non-farm backgrounds in southwestern Ontario who were, in various ways, struggling to get back to the land. In addition to the significance of structural challenges such as access to capital, the research reveals unanticipated personal deterrents influencing participants, such as fear of isolation and an aversion to risk-taking, while highlighting longevity in training and finding partners as important keys to farm entry success.



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