Title: Variance Harvesting/Processing/Marketing & Ecosystem Services: How Cultural Narratives Drive Facts and Sustainable Ecosystems Hang in the Balance .
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in crises of climate change, biodiversity collapse, water shortages, hunger and cultural homogenization. As iconic labels and narrow idioms attach to foods moving along a chain of distribution, risks increase for both harvester and ecosystem health. In this paper, two full-time farmers trained in human ecology, cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis reconcile the need for robust ecosystems with effective market strategies for sustainable agricultural livelihoods. They focus on the function of well-crafted narratives and communicative strategies that inform and intrigue the public in order to embed the value of natural capital in the price of foodstocks. Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm draws upon 12 years experience harvesting, processing and marketing Single-Crop, Single-Batch syrups from within a perennial, wild forest biome. The farm studies food constructs including local, organic, slow food, sustainability and ecosystem services. Through applied research we have extracted a synthetic principle, variance, which supports fair wages for sound ecological practices while establishing firewalls secure from commodity pressures. With this praxis the farm sustains a robust East coast direct-market, embroiling customers as key stakeholders in the food biome. With modifications, variance praxis is applicable for annual crops, aquaculture and ocean harvesting. Understanding that knowledge is socially constituted, crafted narratives are drawn from interstices of functioning dialectics: science-culture, histories-current perceptions, producer-consumer, laboring body-reflecting mind, sustainability-environmental collapse. To stem the tide of commodity culture's homogeneities-of-scale, sustainable cultures must be built. Variance practices intrigue both us and our customers, thereby securing mutual investments in multiple ecosystems, both biological and social, which impact us beyond local place and elevate civic agriculture to global scale whereby we engage our lives among the commons.