In 2016, I spent a year abroad in Leeds and a picked up a single class that changed my life. Land, Fuel and Agriculture introduced me to the world of international food networks, harmful agricultural systems and the alternatives that people around the world are using to reform their relationship to food and agriculture. Despite being completely different from everything else I had studied, I fell in love with the subject. Urban agriculture and farmers markets were of particular interest to me, as well as the various alternative networks people create to provide food for themselves and their communities.
Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, my desire to learn about food systems led me to Flinders University and to Associate Professor Cassandra Star, who I was privileged to have as my honours supervisor.
My honours dissertation looked at Sustainable Materialism and Farmers Markets: A South Australian Perspective. In it, I found that farmers markets can promote sustainable materialist values (such as community creation and collective action, the rejection of traditional food systems and power structures, and a dedication to sustainability) but they must be built into the market framework and prioritised from the start. Farmers markets can be both a gateway that promotes sustainable materialist values, and an embodied outcome of these values.
With the support of a Research Training Program scholarship and a College of Business, Government and Law top-up scholarship, I am honoured to be doing my PhD under Cassandra Star and Associate Professor Beverly Clarke. Expanding my research internationally, I am planning to build upon and refine the framework I created in my honours dissertation. I will be investigating more deeply what is needed to transform farmers markets and their role in creating and supporting a truly sustainable materialist food movement. Working with the CASPR group, with the support and experiences of past and current CASPR members, has been an amazing experience and a perfect match for me and my interests.
By Elizabeth Forrest, PhD candidate