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Stories of Motivation and Values of Small-Scale Farmers in Jamaica and the United States

Raquel Taylor, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Small-scale farmers add to global and local food systems through various means such as connecting communities to local food and support economies. Small-scale farms can address issues related to food and nutritional security. However, farming can be a challenging career to engage in, especially for those who are small-scale farmers. Matters related to succession, higher paying off-farm employment, policies, and more can make it challenging to engage in farming. Leaving the question of what would motivate someone to engage in small-scale farming. Motivation can be viewed through multiple lenses; this study chose to use self-determination theory to understand the motivations of small-scale farmers to engage in farming within Jamaica and the United States. Additionally, culture can shape motivational factors; thus, researchers used the additional theory of Schwartz’s Theory of Basic Values to see how values shaped by culture impact motivational factors to engage in small-scale farming. Using a narrative qualitative design, researchers conducted life-story interviews and follow-up interviews with two small-scale farmers in Jamaica and two small-scale farmers in the United States. Interpretive stories were written about the individual experiences. In addition, three themes emerged: developing self, building a connection with others, and interacting with nature. Self-determination theory was present in the farmer’s display of intrinsic motivation and the presence of the three psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness essential for internationalization, which lead to intrinsic motivation. Additionally, values displaying the culture of small-scale farmers were present in the stories and themes. Findings answered research questions displaying self-determination and its psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), in addition to values (universalism, benevolence, security, tradition, stimulation and self-direction), shaped by culture, were present in the farmers' motivations to engage in small-scale farming across both nations. The display of intrinsic motivation and the need to increase intrinsic motivation led to implications of the creation of programs to encourage and support farmers’ psychological needs to keep them engaged in small-scale farming. Results add to the literature on the cross-cultural application of self-determination theory and values. The research concluded that values in the farmer’s stories show they seek to develop themselves and others and connect with nature. Farmers in this study find a sense of belongingness in small-scale farming within their psychological needs and values.

Subject Area

Agriculture|Management|Personality psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Raquel, "Stories of Motivation and Values of Small-Scale Farmers in Jamaica and the United States" (2024). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI31292866.