Real World Resilience

Case Study

Author(s): Laura Lengnick

Organization: Cultivating Resilience, LLC

Planning Step: Identify Effective Climate Resilience Strategies

Real World Resilience: Stories of Land, People and Community is a collection of nearly 50 stories of climate change adaptation by farmers and ranchers growing food throughout the U.S. These stories were collected and are curated by Laura Lengnick, soil scientist, educator, farmer, and author of Resilient Agriculture (2nd edition 2022). Laura started working to collect adaptation stories back in 2011 when she discovered that the voices of American farmers and ranchers were absent from the many rich discussions about agricultural adaptation to climate change underway throughout the rest of the world at that time. She decided to do what she could to break this silence and got started in 2012 on a climate listening project that has now spanned more than a decade and engaged hundreds of farmers and ranchers growing vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, meats and dairy products. In those early years, Laura focused on gathering stories from longtime producers with 20 years or more experience using sustainable (including organic, ecological, regenerative) production practices. She also made a point of listening to producers located in many different regions of the U.S. Why sustainable? Because she thought that these farmers and ranchers might offer particularly valuable examples of real world resilience. She knew that sustainable producers were ineligible for most of the subsidy enjoyed by producers using more conventional practices. This means that sustainable producers have no choice but to design and manage for resilience just to stay in business — they are farming without a safety net. Why longtime? Because she knew that climate change effects began to accelerate in the U.S. around the year 2000 and ramped up again in 2010. She wanted to listen to farmers and ranchers who were the most likely to have noticed these changes in weather. Why all over the U.S? Because she knew that the changing weather patterns associated with climate change were not the same everywhere, so farm location was an important factor in producers’ lived experience of climate change.

Relevant Region(s): All | Farm Scale: All | Farm Type: All | Markets: All