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Clustering and the spatial distribution of organic farming in England and Wales

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Previous geographical research on organic farming suggests a process of aggregation at the regional scale and spatial clustering at the local level, the latter in response to a neighbourhood effect and different socio-cultural factors. However, little research has been conducted on the geographical distribution of organic farming in a UK context. Using both secondary and primary data, this paper examines geographical aspects of organic farming in England and Wales. At a regional scale, three major concentrations of organic production are found to the south and west of a line drawn between Bangor in north Wales and Brighton in south-east England (the Brighton–Bangor line). One of these concentrations occurs in the counties of East and West Sussex in south-east England. Yet, within these two counties the pattern of organic farming is quite random and there is little evidence of spatial clustering, a neighbourhood effect or the influence of socio-cultural factors. Instead, many of the farms have converted from conventional farming since 1990 and are driven by a strong economic imperative, which encourages the use of national as well as local outlets to both sell their produce and purchase necessary inputs.

Keywords: East/West Sussex; England/Wales; location quotients; organic farming; spatial clustering; whole chain analysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00953.x

Affiliations: Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham GL50 2RH, Email: bilbery@glos.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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