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Environmental Values

The Geography of Somewhere: The Farmers' Market and Sustainability in Brno, Czech Republic

Benjamin J. Vail

Environmental Values 23 (2014): 51-74. doi: 10.3197/096327114X13851122269043


Increasing international uncertainty - including factors such as ongoing financial crises, climate change and energy scarcity - raises questions about which policy strategies can best solve environmental problems and promote community development. This article describes the functioning of the farmers' market in the Czech city of Brno and analyses how it may contribute to local sustainable development. Theoretically, the article engages the debate over the meaning of sustainability and appropriate policies to achieve sustainability goals. Field observations, interviews, content analysis of government documents, and a survey of vendors reveal how the market functions, indicate the meaning of the market for customers and vendors alike, shed light on the future use of the space and provide data for comparison of market activities with official sustainability policy. The article concludes that a novel approach toward sustainable development is to work with existing traditions like farmers' markets rather than focus efforts exclusively on top-down initiatives and high-tech solutions. While such markets are not automatically ecologically friendly, and farmers' markets alone cannot produce a sustainable society, this research demonstrates the potential of such emergent, bottom-up activities to help transform society-nature relations while improving urban quality of life.


Brno, Czech Republic, farmers' markets, sustainable development, Agenda 21

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Editorial: Seeking Sustainability. Clive L. Spash

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