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Over the millennia, every region on Earth has developed its own successful agricultural ecosystem from flat fields of grain and mountainside rice terraces to coastal fish farms and goat herding. Today, we’re going to break down agricultural systems into three scales: subsistence, small-scale, and industrial agriculture. And we’ll take a look at how a place's history plays a huge role in the system we see today as we follow the story of agriculture in the Philippines.


Davila, F. (2018). Human Ecology and Food Systems: Insights from the Philippines. Human Ecology Review, 24(1), 23–50.
Theresa Ventura. (2016). From Small Farms to Progressive Plantations: The Trajectory of Land Reform in the American Colonial Philippines, 1900–1916. Agricultural History, 90(4), 459–483.
The development and agriculture paradigms transformed: Reflections from the small-scale organic rice fields of the Philippines Robin Broad &

John Cavanagh  

Colonial history


Age of Farmers

Land Tenure

Climate Change

Altieri, M.A., Funes-Monzote, F.R. & Petersen, P. Agroecologically efficient agricultural systems for smallholder farmers: contributions to food sovereignty. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 32, 1–13 (2012).
Agroecology – writ large;
Eric Holt-Giménez & Miguel A. Altieri (2013) Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and the New Green Revolution, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 37:1, 90-102, DOI: 10.1080/10440046.2012.716388

Water Footprint

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CC Kids:
If you live in North America like me, the first thing we might imagine when we hear about agriculture and farming are fields of grain that stretch for as far as the eye can see.

Or massive ranches with real life cowboys herding cattle and the sprawling feedlots they end up on. But, there are lots of other systems for producing food around the world.

Like we saw last time, foods have been domesticated pretty much everywhere because hunger and access to food is something weve been trying to figure out forever.

So, over the millennia, every region on earth has developed its own successful agricultural ecosystems, which are the complex system of climate, plants, local animals, the soil's nutrients and microbiome, and whatever's being grown in all of that.

And we don't have to stay on land to farm food! In places near water, aquaculture is also a type of agricultural ecosystem, which can range from communities protecting and cultivating fishing grounds to fish farms where species are raised in artificial ponds or tanks, often alongside major waterways.

Or, people would alter the landscape to create conditions to catch and retain soil with mountain terraces. In places too arid to farm, people maintained and herded different animals. And in places with rich soils, traditions developed to maintain soil health.

As geographers, we're drawn to understanding the connections between the physical needs of the organisms that provide us food, and the systems and structures humans create to interact with those organisms.