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Department of Management

 Aoife Maher

Aoife Maher



Appointed in March 2024, Aoife holds a role as Research and Impact Associate. Primarily working within the Green Future Solutions team supporting businesses to reach their net zero and biodiversity recovery goals.

Aoife’s research interests include sustainable food systems, particularly the production of fruit and vegetables for regional and national markets. Her interdisciplinary PhD research investigates the production of fruit and vegetables in Devon and Cornwall and the relationships between growers and their marketplace intermediaries. In particular, she is interested in the complex ways that marketplace relationships shape on farm production practices. Aoife’s research looks at this question from a number of perspectives; historical and contemporary, conventional and agroecological, and also from a number of production and marketing scales.


  • 2019 – 2024 PhD sociology (ongoing)
  • 2008 – 2009 PdDip Local Government Management
  • 2005- 2006 MA Politics and Contemporary History
  • 2002 – 2005 BA hons History with Chinese studies   


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Research interests

  • Sustainable food systems
  • Horticultural production and marketing – relationships within supply chains – historical, contemporary and projected futures
  • Horticultural production in a changing climate

Choice, consumer knowledge and de-commoditisation within food systems

Research projects

Aoife is also the co-founder of a collaborative research project which explores the historicity and contemporary resonance of the pervasive narrative in the South West that the region is only good for growing grass. This project brings together her research interest exploring horticultural production, with other rural sociologists to present the strong counter narrative that the South West traditionally was a much more mixed, circular and sustainable farming system and it is not the soil or climate that has changed so much as the perception of farmers and the expert system advising them. This project, although underpinned by historical research, has impact implications as knowledge of past production practices has the potential to change perceptions of what is possible in a future sustainable farming landscape. The project team are currently working on a further paper for this project and applying for Impact Funding to take this project to the next stage of its development. They are also applying for a different pot of funding to develop training and networking opportunities for rural participatory research.

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External Engagement and Impact

Awards and Honours

  •   The Vonne Lund Junior Researcher prize 2022

Invited lectures

Scaling up direct sales or reintroducing the intermediary role? Options for and challenges to increasing production of fresh fruit and vegetables. Devon Food Partnership steering group meeting, October 2023

What role for England’s grassland farming regions in the transition to a sustainable food system? EurSafe Conference, Edinburgh, September 2022

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