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Growing at the Margins: Adaptation to Severe Weather in the Marginal Lands of the British Isles

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  • 1 University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
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Abstract

With the problem of severe weather events having significant impacts on harvests in Britain, this study has looked at how small-scale food producers use agroecology to adapt to adverse weather conditions; 23 sites growing food using agroecology across the British Isles in areas severely disadvantaged to agriculture were investigated. Because the climate in these areas is generally hostile to horticulture (often in combination with other factors such as land quality), all the participants have to adapt to the prevailing weather conditions and frequent severe weather events. Through detailed interviews, a range of adaptations to specific weather hazards, and their impacts, has been recorded. The adaptations have been grouped into nine different responses types and then analyzed. Results show that the biggest driver for a change in adaptation responses has been drought, and the most consistent adaptation response has been to problems associated with heavy rainfall. With participants showing a varying level of adaptation to severe weather hazards, this study indicates that growers’ experience and ingenuity are factors influencing adaptation and consequently resilience to severe weather. The study acts as a useful scoping study for the potential of the various methods collected in a knowledge base to be reviewed by stakeholders for scaling up for wider adoption by farmers willing to adapt to climate variability.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dorian Speakman, d.speakman@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

With the problem of severe weather events having significant impacts on harvests in Britain, this study has looked at how small-scale food producers use agroecology to adapt to adverse weather conditions; 23 sites growing food using agroecology across the British Isles in areas severely disadvantaged to agriculture were investigated. Because the climate in these areas is generally hostile to horticulture (often in combination with other factors such as land quality), all the participants have to adapt to the prevailing weather conditions and frequent severe weather events. Through detailed interviews, a range of adaptations to specific weather hazards, and their impacts, has been recorded. The adaptations have been grouped into nine different responses types and then analyzed. Results show that the biggest driver for a change in adaptation responses has been drought, and the most consistent adaptation response has been to problems associated with heavy rainfall. With participants showing a varying level of adaptation to severe weather hazards, this study indicates that growers’ experience and ingenuity are factors influencing adaptation and consequently resilience to severe weather. The study acts as a useful scoping study for the potential of the various methods collected in a knowledge base to be reviewed by stakeholders for scaling up for wider adoption by farmers willing to adapt to climate variability.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dorian Speakman, d.speakman@leeds.ac.uk
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