Andrea Rissing

Cohort: 2012


  • MA, Anthropology, Emory University
  • BA, Anthropology, Grinnell College


My current research focuses on how people starting farms in Iowa define, pursue, and ultimately achieve agricultural success. Beginning alternative farmers conceptualize their work outside of the conventional paradigm, yet in Iowa their opportunities for success are often shaped by the dominant agricultural system. My doctoral work seeks to understand this relationship; how conventional agriculture overlaps and influences the work of young alternative farmers, and how these farmers in turn may be changing the political and geographic landscapes of Iowa agriculture. I am particularly interested in examining the role of social networks, family background, mentorship, and alternative economic arrangements, such as bartering and labor sharing, on beginning farmers’ longevity and profitability.

My previous research includes an undergraduate study on women farmers in Iowa’s local food movement. I have also worked as a farm to school coordinator with the University of Northern Iowa, and have spent five seasons working on small-scale, sustainable farms in Iowa and New Zealand.

Advisor: Dr. Barlett