Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

16-Christopher M.

Pre-program:

My name is Christopher Merchant, I am from West Bloomfield and I am currently a sophomore, a junior in approximately 2 weeks, at Michigan State University studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I also have minors in Urban and Community Forestry and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. I have a passion for outdoor recreation and travel, I was raised camping at least one time a month and have gone on many hikes and canoe trips all around the United States. I have also been to Japan and New Zealand and have had some amazing experiences with outdoor recreation in those countries.

I am interested in going to Australia because international environmental policy, agriculture, and sustainable practice is very interesting to me. I am also interested in travelling and I believe that travelling long distances when you are young and shorter distances as you age allows for you to continue traveling for your whole life. I have also heard that Australia has a beautiful environment and many recreational opportunities.

I think that I would be interested in doing a project regarding Australian attitudes towards agriculture and what level of understanding Australians have of their agricultural systems. I could ask people how they believe their food is produced, where they procure their food, and how frequently have produced their own food or have been involved in agriculture.

Possible references for project:

Hess, A. J., & Trexler, C. J. (2011). A qualitative study of agricultural literacy in urban youth: what do elementary students understand about the agri-food system? Journal of Agricultural Education, 52(4), 1+. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=msu_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA276808964&sid=summon&asid=2c3494c33099738dcbc82b4e7ab70fc3

Colbath, Sue A., and Douglas G. Morrish. “What do College Freshmen Know about Agriculture? an Evaluation of Agricultural Literacy.” NACTA Journal 54.3 (2010): 14-7. ProQuest. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.

Hubert, D., Frank, A., & Igo, C. (2000). Environmental and Agricultural Literacy Education. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 123(1/4), 525-532. doi:10.1023/a:1005260816483

 

Post-program:

While abroad I was studying how people in Australia understand the agricultural system of their country. I then compared my findings in Australia to my findings in the United states. I interviewed several farmers in the United States and interviewed many people involved in the Australian agricultural market. I have attached links to several of the site visits in Australia that we visited that I found to be very helpful in my research. I found that in both countries producers did not believe that the general population of the country understood where their food came from. Talking to farmers in both countries, the only producers believed that people did not understand where their food is from, how the food is produced, and what kinds of issues are facing the farmers. These farmers argued that the reason that many people do not understand the process that their food goes through before sale.

I also did research on what other people have found doing similar research in to how people understand agriculture. In one article they find that 90% of urban youth can identify the components of a cheese burger when given options, but only 50 percent of those same youth can identify the plant and or animal that the food comes from (Hess, A. J., & Trexler, C. J., 2011). Another study concluded that when learning about various topics through the lens of agriculture they learn more about the environment than they do agriculture (Hubert, D., Frank, A., & Igo, C., 2000). The last study that I used was a study of how college freshman understand agriculture, the study discusses that most Americans are two generations removed from the farm and this could limit their understanding of agriculture (Colbath, Sue A., and Douglas G. Morrish, 2010).

I find this information troubling, because even cities with a sustainable city plan are electing not to highlight agriculture or expand local and urban agriculture in the future of their city (Victoria State Government, 2017).  The reason I believe that this is important to include is that the average college freshman lacks an adequate understanding of agriculture and this trend is only appearing to get worse (Colbath, Sue A., and Douglas G. Morrish, 2010). We should be planning for and expanding local agricultural systems if only to educate people, but also to expand food security in urban areas.

A photo of the hustle and bustle of the last minute wholesale purchasers collecting last minute orders as Melbourne Market approaches closing time.

Melbourne Markets main sales floor

A photo of Wirra Wirra Winery's grape vines with autumn coloration on the leafs.

Wirra Wirra Winery

A photo of two types of grapes and limes stacked in Styrofoam boxes in front of a fruit stand at Melbourne Market

Family owned fruit stand at Melbourne Markets

Links:

http://www.melbournemarkets.com.au/

http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/home

https://www.wirrawirra.com/

http://www.melbournebarra.com.au/about-us

http://www.darkhorse-cafe.com.au/

Citations:

Hess, A. J., & Trexler, C. J. (2011). A qualitative study of agricultural literacy in urban youth:what do elementary students understand about the agri-food system? Journal of Agricultural Education, 52(4), 1+. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=msu_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA276808964&sid=summon&asid=2c3494c33099738dcbc82b4e7ab70fc3

Hubert, D., Frank, A., & Igo, C. (2000). Environmental and Agricultural Literacy Education.Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 123(1/4), 525-532. doi:10.1023/a:1005260816483

Colbath, Sue A., and Douglas G. Morrish. “What do College Freshmen Know about Agriculture? an Evaluation of Agricultural Literacy.” NACTA Journal 54.3 (2010): 14-7. ProQuest. Web.
1 Apr. 2017.

Victoria State Government (2017). Plan Melbourne 2017-2050. Web access August 1, 2017 retrieved from https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/20451/Focus-on-Melbourne.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s