Adam Calo, PhD

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I am an Assistant Professor of Environmental Governance and Politics in the Geography, Planning and Environment group at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

I study the barriers that prevent transition to a more just, sustainable, and ecologically resilient food system. Namely, I focus on the way systems of land tenure, norms of property, and complexities of land access tend to water down and frustrate efforts to reform food systems. This dynamic, land governance shaping food and farming outcomes, is the Land Food Nexus. I’m interested in the ways that innovations and policy reforms to property, land tenure and land transfers may facilitate food system transformations.

I received a PhD from the department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, where I studied how problems of land access in California frustrated beginning farmer aspirations.

I was recently a researcher at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, where I studied the role of land reform policies on the potential for agricultural change.

My most recent project, “The role of property, ownership & land tenure on landscape decision making: The case of Scotland’s ‘low carbon farming’ policies,” was part of the UKRI Landscape Decisions Programme Fellowship.

Landscapes podcast

As part of the work I’m doing with the Landscape Decisions Programme, I’m producing a series of interview style podcasts about land.

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Selected academic publications

Google Scholar | Research Gate

Calo, A., K. Shields, and A. Iles. (2022). Using property law to expand agroecology: Scotland’s land reforms based on human rights. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 0(0), 1–37.

Calo, A., McKee, A., Perrin, C., Gasselin, P., McGreevy, S., Sippel, S. R., Desmarais, A. A., Shields, K., Baysse-Lainé, A., Magnan, A., Beingessner, N., & Kobayashi, M. (2021). Achieving Food System Resilience Requires Challenging Dominant Land Property Regimes. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5.

Adam Calo (2021): Who will do the labor in an agroecological transition? Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

Petersen-Rockney, M., Baur, P., Guzman, A., Bender, S. F., Calo, A., Castillo, F., et al. (2021). Narrow and brittle or broad and robust? Comparing adaptive capacity in simplifying and diversifying farming systems. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 5, 56.

Adam Calo. (2020). The Yeoman Myth: A Troubling Foundation of the Beginning Farmer MovementGastronomica 20, no. 2: 12-29.

Adam Calo (2020). ‘Who Has the Power to Adapt?’ Frameworks for Resilient Agriculture Must Contend with the Power Dynamics of Land Tenure. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 4: 259.

Sutherland, L., & Calo, A. (2020). Assemblage and the ‘ good farmer ’ : New entrants to crofting in Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies 80, 532-542.

Carlisle, L., Montenegro de Wit, M., DeLonge, M., Iles, A., Calo, A., et al. (2019) Transitioning to sustainable agriculture requires growing and sustaining an ecologically skilled workforce. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 3(96).

Carlisle, L., de Wit, M. M., DeLonge, M. S., Calo, A., et al. (2019). Securing the future of US agriculture: The case for investing in new entry sustainable farmers. Elementa, Science in the Anthropocene, 7(1).

Adam Calo. (2017) How knowledge deficit interventions fail to resolve beginning farmer challenges. Agriculture and Human Values 35 (2): 367–81.

Calo, Adam and De Master, K. T.  (2016) After the incubator: factors impeding land access along the path from farmworker to proprietor. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(2): 111–127.

Other writing

Calo, Adam, (2022). Unwinding the norms of property is key to food systems sustainability. Sustainable Food Trust.

Calo, Adam, (2020). Open Environmental Data Initiatives Must Contend with Who Owns What. Open Environmental Data Initiative, The Anatomy of Environmental Decision-Making series.

Figueroa, M., Penniman. (2020). Land Access For Beginning and Disadvantaged Farmers. Data for Progress. Green New Deal Policy Series (Contributing Author).

Calo, Adam, and Margiana Petersen-Rockney. (2018). What Beginning Farmers Need Most in the Next Farm Bill: Land. Policy Brief. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Food Institute.

Calo, Adam, (2016). “For farmers, this land is often someone else’s.San Francisco Chronicle.

Small Farms And Land Access - Farm Dreams Deferred. Just Food Podcast

Select presentations

New entrant farmer videos

Short videos produced as part of the NEWBIE project, featuring new entrant farmers and their innovations and challenges.

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To change food, change land


Adam Calo
Building the bridge between land reform and food systems change.