This article explores responses of farmers and other agricultural experts to organic farming in two cultural spheres as examples of the cultural adoption of pro-environmental innovations. The data is based on semi-structured interviews with agricultural actors conducted in Kainuu, Finland, and Sardinia, Italy, and it was analysed using qualitative content analysis. The research’s analytical approaches are based on a regional and professional division of collective identifications, that is, on division by their spatial location and industrial sector. The local perception is derived from identities shaped by local environmental capital and cultural landscapes. In both cases, the peripheral territories belong to the contemporary capitalist arena, and their representatives aspire towards social mobility through isomorphism with respect to the centre. Organic farming provides a platform with which to analyse the peripheral regions, showing that unidirectional and diffusionist modernisation schemes do not always work similarly. The separation between organic farming as a neutral technical concept and as a symbol indicates that similar criteria and official requirements vary according to local realities in different cultural spheres. In such situations, formal environmental standards meet centuries-long traditions, with all their implications. Sometimes these implications ease pro-environmental diffusion. Sometimes they may expose a lack of local knowledge and cultural sensitivity in formal standards.
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