Caring with the Non-Human

Reciprocity in market gardening




cycle of care, market gardening, soil care, relationality, reciprocity


The Anthropocene draws our attention to damaging relations we have with other planet beings. Taking that as a starting point, this article combines the cycle of care and an immersion at a market garden. Complementing theory and practices, two researchers from Wageningen University dialogue about how in soil care, there is complementarity and tension between caring for/with/about plants, livelihoods, people, and biodiversity. From a number of conversations this dialogue developed into a work of creative writing with critical reflections on the data gathered through participant observation. We shed light on questions about the relationality of caring with soil in practice, reciprocity between humans, non-humans and entanglement of care practices. The dialogue format allows us to discuss a broader range of facets around soil care. It is clear from the empirical material that soil care is never only about gardening practices. So, in line with our relational approach we let ourselves discuss various topics.  Moreover, the dialogue format allows us to express ourselves in our own words, again staying closer to the empirical reality. This article contributes to the existing literature by (i) providing an example of a productive market garden that allows for the flourishing of all non-human beings; (ii) further developing the cycle of care theory by applying it to a real case; and finally, (iii) exploring various considerations around reciprocity in caring with soil.

Funding Information
Adriana Ressiore's PhD project is supported by the research project Global Epistemologies and Ontologies (GEOS) and funded by NWO Vidi Grant (V1.Vidi.195.026 ETHNOONTOLOGIES). The PhD project of Michiel van de Pavert is financed by a grant from the Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS) at Wageningen University.


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A hand holding some soil