Regeneration at a distance from the state: From radical imaginaries to alternative practices in Dutch farming

Stephen Leitheiser, Ina Horlings, Alex Franklin, Elen‐Maarja Trell

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract: This article combines a ‘zoomed‐out’ political economic analysis of Dutch agriculture with a more ‘zoomed‐in’ empirical exploration of small new entrant farmers who are carving out space for alternative food networks and practices in the Netherlands. Developing a concept of proto‐regenerative imaginaries, we define proto‐regenerative farmers as those farmers whose work is driven by a desire to contribute to social and ecological well‐being. The use of the term ‘regenerative’ does not imply just the use of practices associated with ‘regenerative agriculture’, but to regeneration as a holistic framework rooted in a paradigm of care in which productive activities (e.g., agroecology) go hand in hand with the reproduction of social and ecological well‐being. Data comes from an in‐depth ethnographic study on a peri‐urban farm that expanded to other farms and initiatives (n = 5) within the network. Strategies used by farmers to carve out these spaces of regeneration include de‐commodification of their produce through ‘solidarity payment’ schemes, the forging of reciprocal relationships and networks with other farmers, and the use of cooperative resource pooling and municipal resources to access land. All of these strategies help proto‐regenerative farmers to implement radical alternatives to the current mainstream in agricultural production. Such examples, which are not necessarily new, show that the building blocks for building a new paradigm in agriculture (and beyond) exist all around in the form of civic activity, and is too often at a distance from the state. A major challenge for academics is to narrate these proto‐regenerative imaginaries as not just anecdotes, but as the raw materials of a systemic alternative which can inspire a new intellectual project, supported by a state framework for agroecology, rural development, and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-725
Number of pages27
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number4
Early online date23 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or
adaptations are made.


  • alternative food systems
  • political economy
  • regeneration
  • transdisciplinarity


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