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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Working from the heart - cultivating feminist care ethics through care farming in Sweden

Pettersson, Katarina; Tillmar, Malin


In this paper we explore why and how women and men farmers carry out care farming, paying attention to farming being gendered. We engage in geographical research on feminist care ethics to understand care farming by considering the people-place relationships cultivated. We draw on post-structural feminist understandings of gendered farm subjectivities, thereby exploring the emergence of new gender subjectivities. The paper fills research gaps on farmers providing care, and on the gendered nature of care farming. To the feminist geographic theorisations on feminist care ethics, we contribute a post-structural feminist approach. Empirically, the study builds on farm visits and 20 semi-structured interviews with women and men engaged in care farming on 12 farms in rural Sweden. We conclude that care farmers cultivate feminist care ethics as an ontology of connections, by working from the heart. This has meant care farmers are developing people-place and people-people connections. Feminist care ethics is, on the one hand a way of expressing criticism of current societal developments such as productivist agriculture and efficiency orientated welfare provisioning and, on the other, a way of making a difference. Feminist care ethics also includes the development of new gender subjectivities for both women and men farmers. We suggest that care farming implies farming otherwise, which shifts the farms to places of care, instead of food production. Altogether, we argue that care farmers nurturing feminist care ethics challenge the very conceptualisation of agriculture - from cultivating animals and plants to cultivating connections.


Care farming; feminist care ethics; gender; post-structural feminist approach; subjectivities; Sweden

Published in

Gender, Place and Culture
2022, volume: 29, number: 10, pages: 1446-1466

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Tillmar, Malin
Linnaeus University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG5 Gender equality

UKÄ Subject classification

Gender Studies

Publication Identifiers


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