Angela Dawn Parker
Farm Animal Companions: Exploring Human-Animal Relationships in Safe Farming Spaces
By, Angela Dawn Parker, Masters Student in Department of Geography at Urban and Environmental Studies at Concordia University
With recent allegations of animal abuse at commercial farms, the public is becoming more aware of negative human–animal relationships. The exposed violence is adding to the influx of animal rescue groups and sanctuaries and a rise in vegan diets. Animal rights activists are currently advocating for more humane treatment of farm animals, while some unconventional farmers are pursuing food production practices that are less harmful. Little attention has been devoted to the possibilities of combining both the rescue movement and agriculture by hosting animals in a non-food capacity on farms. My paper evaluates such an approach, examining the social and ecological effects of farm animals as non–food commodities on organic vegetable farms. Can combining rescued farm animals and organic farming be beneficial to both humans and non-humans?
Using theoretical insights developed in the field of animal geographies, this research examines relationships between humans and animals within the rescue movement and throughout plant–based farming. My paper investigates potential safe spaces for farm animals while focusing on the emotional aspects of interspecies relationships in these spaces. To preserve a healthy environment and a close connection with nature, one must maintain positive altruistic relationships with animals. While I draw on the strong body of scholarship that investigates human–animal relationships in the food system, I contribute an original perspective to this literature by revealing the emotional characteristics of both humans and animals in the food production space. I set forth to challenge the thought that all farm animals have to be consumed in order to be useful and that all farm animals are commodities. Can humans and farm animals live harmoniously together and mutually benefit one another on organic vegetable farms?
Angela Dawn Parker is a graduate student at Concordia University. Her research interests include human-animal relations, organic plant-based farming, animal rights, emotional and animal geography, vegan nutrition, and B12 content in herbivore feces. In 2013 she founded Roy and Cher’s Rescue Farm, a vegan-inspired organization that assists animals rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment. Her activism extends out to the environment and the protection of the complex systems within ecology, which include both flora and fauna.