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Could the wild berry industry become a sustainable solution for rural areas?

Research project Rural areas approach diverse but profound challenges, making alternative and innovative transitions necessary. Global food systems constitute a telling example of a rurally related economic activity, which produce social and spatial inequalities, why they are in need of fundamental transition. In this project, we focus on wild berries as an unexplored resource containing potential for development in rural and sparsely populated areas, and attach it to the empowerment of migrant workers.

Rural areas face profound challenges, as the result of staggering populations, declining industries and an urban concentration of capital. In this project, we focus on wild berries as an unexplored resource containing potential for regional development in Sweden. At present, the main regional footprint is instead the import of precarious migrant workers.

Head of project

Charlotta Hedberg
Associate professor
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2021-12-01 2025-11-30

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Geography

External partners

Linn Axelsson

Research area

Human geography

Project description

The project emphasises that the global food system of the wild berry industry is in need of substantial transition. If sustainably transformed, the wild berry industry can stimulate regional refinement and employment in rural Sweden, and improve the situation for migrant workers. The project adopts an innovative research design, combining the perspectives of sustainability transitions with diverse economies.

Rural areas approach diverse but profound challenges, making alternative and innovative transitions necessary in order to improve society. Global food systems constitute a telling example of a rurally related economic activity, which produce social and spatial inequalities and are in need of fundamental transition. In this project, we focus on wild berries as an unexplored resource containing potential for development in rural and sparsely populated areas, and attach it to the empowerment of migrant workers. While integrating the theories on sustainability transitions and diverse economies, the project aims to systematize and search for alternative and sustainable

economic performance and labour supply within global food systems. We do this through the case of the wild berry industry, as an example of a global food system, which contains potential to spatial regeneration of rural areas. Methodologically, the project is based on performative research, where we integrate systematic, all-encompassing

knowledge on industries and governance with in-depth knowledge from rural case studies. The first part of the project will analyze the interrelations between governance, industries and labour supply, while the second part consists of case studies, investigating alternative economies of entrepreneurship and work. The project provides novel knowledge on the sustainability transitions of alternative economies, while engaging with a wide variety of actors on multiple geographic scales.

 

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