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.

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Selected academic publications

Google Scholar | Research Gate

Calo, Adam, and Rosalind Corbett. (2024). New Entrant Farming Policy as Predatory Inclusion: (Re)Production of the Farm through Generational Renewal Policy Programs in Scotland. Agriculture and Human Values, March.

Schebesta H., Alessandrini M., Cazzini F., Rolandi S., Hillesheim A., Vos E., Helmlinger M., Calo A., Mezzacapo E., Delhomme V.N., Fortin N., Milian Gomez J., Macchi C., Tracz M., Coli F., Paganizza V., Vanuzzo M., Jager C. de & Pierson-Brown T. (2024), The future of food law: synopsis article and research agenda, Rivista di Diritto Alimentare 18(1): 62-81.

Cole B, Bradley AV, Willcock S, Gardner E, Allinson E, Hagen-Zanker A, Calo AJ, Touza J, Petrovskii S, Yu J, et al. (2023). Using a multi-lens framework for landscape decisions. People and Nature. doi: 10.1002/pan3.10474

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, (2023) Can Agriculture and Biodiversity Coexist? Green European Journal.

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

Land food nexus endorsements

Compare Monbiot’s rhapsodic support for Costa Rica’s flawed agricultural and conservation practices here:… With this more critical analysis by Adam Calo. Reading them side by side is night and day.

Kai Heron

It's worth reading Calo's thoughts on Paved Paradise & Costa Rican ag before getting too excited about this -

Chris Smaje

My second thought was, I’m so tired of sob story farm value pieces that lack any real systemic analysis of why it’s happening. And then Adam writes all the things in my brain in an eloquent substack

Neil Thapar

Finally got around to reading this excellent, timely post from Calo recapping the land sparing/sharing debates that should have ended a decade ago. highly recommended for anyone concerned with food systems & conservation!

Ben Luliano

The logic that underlies the specious argument used in the original post is land-sparing. One of the best critiques I've read of this comes from Calo’s recent piece

Alex Heffron

Select presentations

New entrant farmer videos

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Building the bridge between land reform and food systems change.