Civic agriculture and leadership: Builders and weavers in Iowa's regional food systems

Kleiman, Laura
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Ecological instability is a problem in our modern time; however, there are an increasing number of social movements dedicated to addressing this problem, for example, the sustainable agriculture and the food security movements. This paper focuses on a specific aspect of social change related to food production: food system localization. The Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) was created by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture of Iowa State University in 2003. The RFSWG can be understood as a community of practice and studied using the sociological theory of civic agriculture. The goal of the working group is to provide a forum for the coordinators of Iowa's regional food groups to share information and learn from each other within the social context of local food systems. Ten coordinators of the RFSWG were interviewed for this paper in order to learn how food group coordinators in Iowa develop lasting relationships with farmers and producers. After analysis, the data yielded rich, qualitative data regarding the research question; however, there were also emergent themes in the data that shed light on the leadership styles of coordinators. These themes include the warrior, builder, and weaver framework for understanding leadership style. This exploratory, inductive study is the first of its kind and provides a strong backbone for future research in food system localization efforts and leadership.

Civic agriculture, Food system coordination, Food system localization, Local food system, Warrior, builder, weaver