Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) provide food to local communities while also serving other functions, such as education, using a combination of ecological farming methods, direct distribution strategies and social inclusive approaches that move away from conventional food systems. However, AFNs are widely heterogenous as they can adopt very different practices and values. Further, the development of AFNs is strongly influenced by the contexts within which they are embedded. Their various configurations, in fact, can be seen as markers of their alternativeness with respect to conventional supply chains. Hence, it is necessary to understand what practices and processes characterize AFNs.
In this presentation I outline a proposal to research a community farm and a food cooperative based in Sheffield. Assemblage theory will be used to decompose and recompose AFNs by intersecting practices with historical, cultural and political processes. As a result, it will be possible to briefly describe the organizations and map out the initiatives studied. This will allow me to capture some of the features that influence the conception and development of AFNs.
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