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PhD Studentship: De-commodifying Agriculture - a Critical Hindsight & Foresight Analysis of One of the World's Oldest CSAs - (Community Supported Agriculture Farm Temple Wilton, NH, USA)

Coventry University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Coventry
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Fees and bursary at UKRI rates
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th May 2019
Closes: 31st July 2019


Temple Wilton Community farm ( in New Hampshire, USA is one of the oldest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes in the world. Although communal and community agriculture have existed at least since the reformation [e.g. Schleitheimer Bekenntnis Switzerland (1525), Bruderhöfe and community farms of Mennonites in Europe and the Americas, biodynamic farms like Hof-Community Marienhöhe ( (since 1928), Weimar Germany, 4 years after Rudolf Steiner’s historic Landwirtschaftlicher Kurs on biological agriculture at Koberwitz,  near Breslau, Silesia, Poland (1924)], the birth of the modern concept of CSA, where the community is rural and connects farming with urban dwellers and professions other than farming, can be traced back to the ideas of Trauger Groh and kindred spirits, who started the Temple Wilton CSA (1985) over 30 years ago.

Therefore, Temple Wilton provides a long-term timeline and study material for the ups and downs of this movement and attempts to de-commodify agriculture. It triggers profound research questions like, is there a new association between consumer, farmer, and the earth, in which cooperation is the principle, thereby decoupling the notion of crops being traded under a unit cost and being commodified under the economics of scale ‘rule’, as if it is a law of nature. Ecological economics thinking on entropy and the de-growth school of thought (Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s work ‘Entropy Law and the Economic Process’ (1971), indicate that this cannot be the case long-term. However, what is lacking is a long-term ‘reality-check’ where principles and ideas akin to this new economic thinking are actually used to run a farm business and feeding the supporting community over many years and generations.

Research Questions

  • What are the strengths and weakness of the Temple Wilton?
  • How have they developed and what detailed lessons can be learned from a 30-year long term perspective?
  • How does Temple Wilton compare with other CSAs and community led businesses in the world?
  • How can the practical and theoretical lessons shape the trajectory of community led businesses and the wider de-commodification and transition to a post-capitalist global economy?

Programme and methodology

The research will adopt a mixed-method transdisciplinary research approach. The case-study farm analysis will start with classical farm economics, then add further layers of deeper analysis on yields, inputs, labour, education, eco-system services, combining natural and social science approaches. Going further, it will use social return on investment methodology (SROI). While Temple Wilton will be studied in detail, other selected CSA and literature data will be used to compare and contrast the results with other CSAs.

Candidate Specification

Funding details

Start / Duration: September 2019, 3.5 years

Fees and bursary at UKRI rates

Closing date: Wednesday, 31st July 2019 with interviews to follow shortly.

To apply

Informal enquiries, contact Dr. Ulrich Schmutz at

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