Agriculture and the food system accounts for nearly one third of all greenhouse gases, but the vast majority of this is from the energy intensive production and distribution of a few internationally traded commodities. Whereas farmers operating agro-ecological systems around the world produce food and resources for their communities while reducing cO2 emissions from agriculture and sequestering carbon at the same time.
Many governments now accept the need for net zero but there is a huge amount of conflict over the strategies we need to get there. From corporate veganism to carbon offsetting these false solutions continue to rely on the exploitation of people and resources around the world, just as much as the current agri-industrial food system does.
In this session, we will outline the Landworkers’ Alliance and La Via Campesina’s vision of how to create a genuinely climate friendly agriculture system while resisting the false solutions advocated for by the corporations ultimately responsible for reducing fossil fuels.
New research has found that for every pound spent buying organic food through a farmers’ market or veg scheme, almost £3 more is generated in benefits to farmers and growers, their workers, local suppliers, citizens and the environment. We show how buying food is an agricultural act with far-reaching consequences.
One of the main problems with our food system is that the price you pay often doesn’t reflect all the factors that have gone into creating it. This can disadvantage food production and distribution systems that do take them into account.
New Economics Foundation (NEF), in partnership with community-led traders Growing Communities and the Soil Association, shine a light on this with ground-breaking analysis. It draws on data from customers, volunteers, employees, farmers, producers, as well as environmental research and demonstrates how to monetise the true value of local, organic supply chains, now recognised as valuable ‘public goods’.
We discuss this ‘toolkit’ and its potential for enabling other community led growing and trading networks, such as Better Food Traders.
The Soil Association and the English Organic Forum have been working with Defra to seek recognition of the public goods that are provided by organic farming practices. From our research and representations, we make the case for these public goods to be supported by the government.
The achievements of beginning farmer movements of the last decade are exemplary, but land access challenges continue to threaten to dead-end the bolder aspirations of would be farmers. At the very root of the problem are the legal, cultural and social rules that govern our sense of property—what it is, how it is governed and how it is transferred. In the “Global North” strong ideological commitment to the virtues of private property make visioning alternative land tenure and land access systems seem implausible. Yet, there are examples of a land reform movement in the private property context which can teach us how to shift focus away from small farm entrepreneurism into deep political work.
This panel session brings together leading activists involved in land reform efforts from Scotland, France and the US. In these places, where ideas of private property are rarely challenged, these examples provide strategies for unlocking land for the public good. The panel will shine a light on examples of new models of “land reform” while looking at the efforts of beginning farmer movements.
Pandemics heed an ancestral warning in the United States, harking back to when too many Indigenous people were killed due to smallpox. That memory was especially acute for tribal regions across the United States with the onset of COVID-19. While many Tribal regions were quick to close their communities, many of them especially in the Southwest were still the hardest hit. Farmers, re-focused on ensuring good food was reaching elders and the most vulnerable, while at the same time growing and having to manage an onset of “support” that was not ideal for long-term sustainable food production. Alongside this came more interest in investing in Indigenous land stewardship that required leaders and collaboratives to form as a way to create a more holistic community-centered solution to the growing need of expanding production. Hear and learn from Indigenous leaders about how they have pivoted their work in powerful ways towards a more promising future.
Do we even have a right to be hopeful? With political and ecological fires raging all around, is it irresponsible to imagine a future world radically better than our own? A world of healed ecosystems? Of food sovereignty and equal access to land? A world where governments fear the people instead of the other way around?
These are questions that Naomi Klein and Nnimmo Bassey wrestled with when they conceived of a sequel to last year's Emmy-nominated short, "A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." The first film, co-written by the congresswoman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, was set in a can-do future: one in which bold, progressive politicians joined with grassroots movements to launch the "Decade of the Green New Deal," battling poverty, injustice, and climate disruption all at the same time. The film touched a nerve and ended up being viewed more than 12 million times, convincing our little team of the need for more art that departs from well-worn apocalyptic scripts. Then Covid-19 hit.
Join globally-known activists, Naomi Klein and Nnimmo Bassey, as they show us the eight-minute sequel to Message from the Future, discuss the lessons we can learn from this extraordinary time and what a better and more hopeful future might look like.
Please join the ORFC Global team and UK folksinger, Sam Lee, for a brief closing plenary (15 minutes)
For those who would like to sing along with the final song here are the lyrics.
One May morning early I chanced for to roam
And strolled through the field by the side of the grove.
It was there I did hear the harmless birds sing,
And you never heard so sweet,
and you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet
as the birds in the spring.
At the end of the grove I sat myself down
And the song of the nightingale echoed all round,
Their song was so charming their notes were so clear
No music no songster,
no music no songster,
No music no songster
can with them compare.
All you that come here the small birds to hear,
I'll have you pay attention so pray all draw near.
And when you're growing old you will have this to say,
That you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet,
You never heard so sweet
as the birds on the spray!