Team: Jennifer Robinson (lead), Daniel Knudsen, Stacey Giroux, Kurt Waldman, Julia Valliant, New Faculty Lines, Research Scientists, and Post Doctoral Scholars.
Importance of Site: Norway is a nation balancing a complex set of environmental, justice, and economic issues in an affluent but fragile region in a time of change.
Site Description: The environment in Norway poses significant challenges to agriculture. The country is situated in the far north of Europe, extending into the Arctic. In addition to a short growing season, there is little arable land, and in the west of the country much of that is along waterways that will subsume farmland as ocean levels rise. Norway is relatively wealthy with strong formal institutions. Significantly, it is not a member of the EU. Much of the nation's modernization was made possible by the discovery of North Sea oil in the late 20th century, which now is worth less than it once was, creating a sense of financial precarity and an impetus for fresh thinking. A research focus on the western fjord region of Norway yields developments that point toward adaptations in food and culture in response to environmental, population, and economic shifts. This region is central to Norway's vision of developing fish farming in its salt water fjords, a controversial plan widely perceived to be causing environmental damage. Mining the region's potential for nature-based tourism since the 19th century has also had mixed results. In addition, this region has longstanding orcharding that has been adapted to social and economic change. Finally, because Norway lies outside the Eurozone while much of the region lies within a World Heritage zone, governance, regulation, and taxation are complex and socially resonant.
Data Collection Approach/Methods: We will use both qualitative and quantitative data (Bernard & Gravlee 2014) to study the Norwegian agro-food system in the western fjord region. Specifically, we will use participation observation and informal and formal interviews with food producers (growers and fishermen), aggregators, and consumers. Structured surveys will also be used to solicit quantitative data from food producers and consumers.