Principles and Practices of Community Farm-Based Research

We acknowledge that the lands on which we gather, plant, harvest, and share knowledge and resources are the homelands of the Innu and Inuit of Labrador, and we recognize their ancestral and continued ties to these lands and waters.

The Pye Centre is a community-based and community-led hub for research, education, teaching, and community engagement, managed by the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Institute of Memorial University. We are a community of engaged farmers, community growers, and researchers working together to co-create knowledge and evidence-based resources that contribute to strengthening and enhancing Northern boreal food systems.

Introduction

We are committed to fostering and supporting an interdisciplinary group of researchers at the Pye Centre who conduct a variety of research projects that meet community interests, needs, and priorities.

The following information is for anyone interested in leading a research project at or with the Pye Centre. This includes academic-, community-, and government-based researchers, farmers, community members and community-based organizations, research associates, visiting researchers, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, and elementary and secondary students, from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.

All research that takes place at, with, and through the Pye Centre is considered community farm-based research. We consider community farm-based research to be any research activity on, or linked to, the farm that is place-based and community-focused, meaning it is designed with and for the benefit of peoples, lands, and waters of Labrador. Research projects could involve the use of designated research plots (Figure 1) and/or any other services, equipment, and resources available on the farm, and represent a variety of research disciplines (natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences, and humanities) and approaches.

Figure 1. Soil analysis data for research plots at the Pye Centre as of Spring 2020, broken down by approximate field area.

At the Pye Centre, community farm-based research covers a variety of themes and topic areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Indigenous food sovereignty and food systems;
  • sustainable practices in organic and conventional food production in the North;
  • soil health, amendments, and diversity;
  • land management;
  • regenerative and restorative agriculture;
  • biodiversity in agroecosystems;
  • food systems education and curriculum development;
  • historical food and agricultural practices in the North;
  • health and wellbeing related to farming and food production; and
  • farming and restorative justice.

While specific research topics and themes will vary and change in response to needs and priorities of Labrador communities, all community farm-based research conducted at or with the Pye Centre must contribute to our vision and goals for strengthening and enhancing the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of Northern boreal food systems.

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Our Vision and Goals

Our vision is to serve as a leading-edge and community-driven centre of research, education, and training excellence to support, promote, and enhance food security, production, and distribution in all parts of Labrador.

Working together, through research and education, our goals are to support and enhance:

  1. Already-present local food networks, including supporting farmers and community farm-based organizations in Labrador.
  2. Availability of fresh and desired foods, which are nutritional, accessible, affordable, and what people want to eat.
  3. Local food security and sovereignty, supporting peoples’ right to eat and decreasing reliance on external food production and transportation networks.
  4. Health and wellbeing, through eating fresh foods, participating in food growing and harvesting, and connecting to land and community on the farm.

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Values Guiding Community Farm-Based Research at the Pye Centre

To ensure that all community farm-based research contributes to the Pye Centre’s vision and goals for strengthening and enhancing Northern boreal food systems, we have outlined the following values for guiding ethical, responsible, and respectful farm-based research:

  1. Relevance for Labrador peoples and food systems;
  2. Responsibility to peoples, lands, and waters through adherence to ethical principles and conduct in research;
  3. Reciprocity among peoples, lands, and waters; and
  4. Relational accountability among those involved in the research process.

Since farm-based research at and with the Pye Centre can take many different forms, these key values help to make sure all community farm-based research projects contribute to our vision and goals.

1. Relevance for Labrador peoples and food systems

Research projects must have practical relevance to the needs and priorities for Labrador peoples and food systems, meaning the research is grounded in the needs, issues, concerns, and strategies of Labrador communities and the farm- and food-related organizations that serve them.

Community farm-based agricultural research, in particular, focuses on understanding and strengthening agricultural activities by identifying relevant questions, and offering appropriate, feasible solutions. Findings should therefore support decision-making by farmers, agricultural industry, community members, and other researchers. Above all, all research projects based at, or connected to, the Pye Centre should be designed with the intention to provide information that is in some way directly useful for strengthening and enhancing food systems in Labrador.

2. Responsibility to peoples, lands, and waters through adherence to ethical principles and conduct in research

Responsibility in community farm-based research means practising environmental stewardship and supporting the ecological and social integrity of the Pye Centre farm and surrounding lands and waters. Researchers have a responsibility to adhere to ethical principles and conduct in research, and recognize and mitigate any long-term risks to ecological, cultural, and community health and wellbeing.

Researchers also have a responsibility to co-operate and share resources with other researchers, community members, staff, and visitors at the Pye Centre, to avoid duplication of research projects and reduce any burdens on farmland and farm resources.

3. Reciprocity among peoples, lands, and waters

We prioritize reciprocity among peoples, lands, and waters in all that we do at the Pye Centre, and that includes our research practices. For research at or with the Pye Centre, reciprocity involves prioritizing Indigenous and local knowledge systems from the very beginning of the research process, acknowledging the historical and ongoing experiences and wisdom that help to inform and shape the research questions and design.

Reciprocity also means designing farm-based research projects that make lasting contributions to Labrador food systems, and that enhance the capacity of Labrador farmers and community members to continue to engage in future farm-based research. These contributions may include new farm education or training programs, new agricultural services or technologies, resources such as manuals or workbooks, and/or the identification of additional questions or opportunities for further study.

4. Relational accountability among those involved in the research process

Relational accountability in community farm-based research means the research is centred on relationships among researchers, communities, and the lands on which the research is conducted. Researchers should understand the historical, cultural, ecological, and social contexts of their research topic, and consider existing knowledge and expertise on that topic. When research projects involve collaborations with local farmers and community food-based organizations, researchers should prioritize the unique strengths and contributions of all involved in the research process, sharing responsibilities and decision-making when possible.

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Sharing and Reporting Research Findings

Sharing knowledge, resources, and research findings with the community is integral to our work at the Pye Centre, and we have a commitment to share and report research findings in accessible, engaging, and usable ways.

Sharing ownership of research data

While the Pye Centre does not own any of the research data collected the farm, we encourage researchers to share their data with us, where and as appropriate, in a shared data ownership arrangement. For more information and to consent to share your data with the Pye Centre and any research partners, please refer to the Research Application Form.

Sharing and reporting research findings

At the Pye Centre, we are committed to strengthening and enhancing food systems in Labrador in ways that meet the needs and priorities of Labrador communities, and this involves sharing and reporting findings from research conducted on the farm. We support and encourage research data to be shared, discoverable, citable, and recognised as valuable to all those interested in learning about research on the farm.

We aim to facilitate openness and transparency in sharing and reporting research findings. We want to ensure that findings from community farm-based research projects are made available and accessible to farmers, agricultural industry, community members, community food-based organizations, other researchers, and/or anyone else who could use the research findings to support decision-making related to strengthening and enhancing Labrador food systems.

We require all researchers to share:

  • a clear-language abstract, summarizing their research topic, approach, findings, and importance (350 words maximum);
  • a clear-language, community-oriented report on the research project and any findings (template provided by the Pye Centre);
  • a copy of any publications related to the research project, to be included in the Pye Centre’s annual reporting; and
  • notification of any scholarly activities, public presentations, and other results-sharing related to the research project, to be included in the Pye Centre’s annual reporting, and so we can promote these activities with our partners and community.

In addition, we support and strongly encourage other knowledge translation and mobilization activities for sharing research findings, including, but not limited to:

  • public talks and other community events;
  • informational videos;
  • blog posts for the Pye Centre website; and
  • community engagement activities at the Pye Centre, including “Meet the Researcher” days and youth days.

Consultation on knowledge translation and mobilization activities is available to anyone who does community farm-based research at and with the Pye Centre. For more information, please refer to the Available Services, Equipment, and Other Resources to Support Community Farm-Based Research.

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Questions to Consider

After reviewing the above information, please reflect on the following questions before filling out your application to conduct research at or with the Pye Centre: 

  • How does your research project contribute to the Pye Centre’s vision and goals?
  • How does your research contribute to enhancing and strengthening Northern food security, food systems, and food sovereignty? 
  • How does your research align with the Pye Centre’s farm-based research values? How will you ensure your research will continue to align with these values?
  • What forms will your research output(s) take and how will you ensure it’s available and accessible to local farmers or knowledge users?
  • How can the Pye Centre support you in conducting your research?
  • What other partnerships are needed to guide and support your research? 

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Submission Deadlines

Proposals must be submitted before 11:59pm (Atlantic) on January 31st to be considered for approval. If January 31st falls on a weekend, the proposal must be submitted the next business day, by 11:59pm (Atlantic).

Proposals may be considered after this deadline, with special permission from the Pye Centre.

Submitted proposals are reviewed by the Pye Centre’s management team and Community Farm Advisory Board. Approvals will be sent out by the end of February.

Please save a copy of your proposal for your own records.


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