Creating “Employment Niches” Based on Diversity and Ecosystem Services: New Frontiers in Managing Nutrient Recycling 

“There is a growing recognition that diversified farming systems can provide strong and resilient localized agricultural and food system employment, as a counterweight to rural economic declines. Garibaldi and Pérez-Méndez (2019) showed where countries with higher crop diversity were shown to support more agricultural employment and did not sacrifice socio-economic development or economic growth. They note that higher crop diversity may require a more diverse set of inputs, logistics, machinery, skills, and services throughout the year (“employment niches”). Students will be guided in their exploration of employment niches based on diversity and ecosystem services on a local level, examining how alternative systems of nutrient cycling and composting might lead to ecological agriculture enterprises and how policy changes can be supportive (i.e., composting policies in Vermont).”

-Barbara Gemmill-Herren and Robin Currey


Learning Outcomes

Local Food and Agriculture Policy

Introduction of the skills needed to develop policy briefs for local communities and policy makers.

Measuring Ecosystem Services

Develop competency related to understanding how ecosystem services may provide a basis for enterprises and employment niches.

Different Types of Ecosystem Services

Learn about the kinds of ecosystem services (agrobiodiversity, pollination, pest and disease control, water filtration, erosion prevention, waste decomposition, etc.) that may lend themselves to future enterprises and employment niches.

Employment and Job Skills Assessment

Identify what skill sets employers are currently looking for and identify opportunities for employment or entrepreneurial activities that are based on biodiversity and ecosystem services in a particular landscape or seascape.