Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Adriana Premat


The topic of this dissertation is Orchard Hill Farm, an organic, draft-horse powered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm located on the outskirts of Sparta, Ontario. Here, a thoughtful and flexible approach to management that works with soil, non-human animals, and humans has resulted in a financially viable small-scale farm within a provincial and national context where the number of small farms has diminished rapidly in the last decade. This site provides a unique opportunity to study a successful case of what is termed alternative or “civic” agriculture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted from August 2013 to August 2014, this study considers the experiences of the owners, agricultural apprentices, and CSA members at this farm, and the ideas that either drive or emanate from these experiences. One of the important theses of this study is that, for CSA members, the farm is a meaningful place where they may experience a nostalgic “re-enchantment” through a perceived closeness to food, farmer, and farm. For consumers, such food carries the added value of close connections; for farmers, the CSA framework offers more than a guaranteed clientele. Working in close connection with the land and the non-human animals that inhabit it, farmers (and apprentices) express a commitment to sustainable practices that derives from their own future-oriented “enchantment” with the earth and what it produces. This sets the stage for the CSA clients to become more attuned to the idea of a “civic”-minded agriculture and more committed to an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable food system.