Deskilling, agrodiversity, and the seed trade: a view from contemporary British allotments

Gilbert, Paul Robert (2013) Deskilling, agrodiversity, and the seed trade: a view from contemporary British allotments. Agriculture and Human Values, 30 (1). pp. 101-114. ISSN 0889-048X

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Over the last half-century, quality control standards have had the perverse effect of restricting the circulation of non-commercially bred vegetable cultivars in Britain. Recent European and British legislation attempts to compensate for this loss of agrodiversity by relaxing genetic purity standards and the cost of seed marketing for designated ‘‘Amateur’’ and ‘‘Conservation’’ varieties. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at a British allotment site, this article cautions against bringing genetically heterogeneous cultivars into the commercial sphere. Such a move may intensify the horticultural ‘‘deskilling’’ of British allotment gardeners, who have come to rely on commercial seed catalogs as sources of germplasm and knowledge. Horticultural deskilling also entails the delegation of seed selection activities to professional breeders and the potential loss of agrodiversity. The activities of dedicated seed savers who save and circulate the seed of genetically heterogeneous ‘‘heritage’’ varieties, in a manner similar to the management of landraces in the global South, may provide a better model for attempts to safeguard vegetable diversity in the global North.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Agrobiodiversity; Homegardens; Allotments; Economic Anthropology; Seed Exchange
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences > GE170 Environmental policy
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Depositing User: Paul Robert Gilbert
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2017 10:31
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2017 10:33

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