Topic: Viticulturists networks and care for the environment in Hérault (France)
Keywords: Farming, viticulture, biodiversity, environmental networks, site-specific cooperation
Recent literature shows that farmers networks and environmental programs contribute to agroecological transition, since they allow sharing experiences and building collective references that contribute to foster sustainable practices (Compagnone and Hellec 2015 ; Hillis et al. 2018). However, researches mainly focus on farming practices within plots only. This paper addresses the workshop’s questions one and four (Q1: Which individual and contextual conditions allow the emergence of such forms of innovative cooperation? Q4: How to facilitate the involvement of a wider diversity of farmers?). In particular, this paper focuses on: 1) How diverse biodiversity observation programs and networks co-exist locally? 2) To what extent such networks are a factor of change in farmers’ relations to biodiversity and affect their practices at and beyond plot scale?
To answer those questions, we used information collected during an ethnographic qualitative survey in the languedocian vineyard (department of Hérault, France). We conducted semi-structured interviews from November 2017 to May 2018 with 20 viticulturists. Most of them were doing conventional viticulture and were part of local collective environmental networks. We also did participant observations with two programs (Sustainable viticulture groups, “Groupes de viticulture durable”, consisting of collective plots observations, and Biodiv’eau, consisting of a flora inventory made by viticulturists on the edges of their vineyard). Additionally we conducted semi-structured interviews with 8 members of local institutions related with the programs.
Inductive qualitative analyses allowed us to characterize 1) the conditions of emergence and success of these programs, 2) their effects on viticulturists’ profile diversity, and 3) how being affiliated to several networks contributes to shape viticulturists’ practices and relation to biodiversity issues. We found that: 1- The co-existence of diverse networks and programs in Hérault allows viticulturists to participate to several networks; 2- While participating, viticulturists change their relation to biodiversity; they broaden their perspectives and conceptions of environmental issues. Regarding their vineyard, they are likely to change the way they take care of plots and edges; 3- However, without further political and financial support, these collective initiatives may not be able to recruit more participants and to increase their impact on agricultural practices. Cited literature: Compagnone C., Hellec F. (2015), « Farmer’s Professional Dialogue Networks and Dynamics of Change. The Case of ICP and no-Tillage in Burgundy (France) », Rural Sociology, vol. 80, n° 2, 248-273. Hillis V., Lubell M., Hoffman M. (2018), “Sustainability and viticulture management in California”, Journal of Environmental Management, 217, 214-225.