Family farming as a practice: Re-evaluating supporting narratives for a sustainable future in marginal areas

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Journal Article
Journal of Design Research, 2015, 13 (3), pp. 293 - 306
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Copyright © 2015 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd. Within the dry, marginal farming landscapes of the Maranoa, southwest Queensland, progressive depletion of soils that are unsuited to intensive production has left both the land, and the families that work it, exhausted. This article is based on a design ethnography that draws on practice theory to understand the practice of farming as exemplified by particular ways of knowing, acting and being. Critical aspects of this practice include background knowledge, know-how, emotional responses, goals, activities and purposeful engagements with things. Secondly, practice theory will be used to understand the extent to which the practice of farming holds these farmers in place, with very few options for an alternative future in sustainable production. This article also draws on ontological design as elaborated by Tony Fry and Anne Marie Willis, as well as on practice theory, to show how possibilities for change might appear at the same time that conceptions of the 'good life' begin to break down.
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