At this time of multiple pandemics, of police violence, coronavirus, climate chaos, and unprecedented economic crisis, we are being called to put our food and land sovereignty dreams into deeper practice. Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous community farm in New York that raises vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs and poultry for people living under food apartheid, and is part of a growing movement to uphold everyone’s right to land, honor the people who grow our food, and support farmers of colour.
Combining visual storytelling and poetry, Naima Penniman will share Soul Fire Farm's pandemic-response strategies, including provision gardening in urban centers, a reparations map, and solidarity sharing the harvest through mutual aid networks. She will also uplift other Black-Indigenous-People-of-Colour led organisations and movements, past and present, that are working in collaboration with land for food security, climate resilience, and the health of our ecosystems. Join us to learn how you too can help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.
Migration of young people away from rural areas is taking place across the world, with fragile infrastructure and services cited as some of the key reasons for this demographic shift. Atop of the day-to-day disadvantages that rural youth face, the climate emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis threaten their futures. How can rural young people be better supported to create the change they wish to see in their rural areas? How can they be encouraged to raise their voices on rural issues? What changes do they think need to keep young people, and attract more to live, work or study in rural areas?
This panel discussion will bring together rural young people from across the world to discuss the realities of being a rural young person, as well as their perspective on what needs to change to transform rural areas and make them inviting and fit for the future.
La Via Campesina made history in 1993 with the articulation of a global peasant movement. Since then they have grown to represent over 200 million peasants, small and medium size farmers, landless people, rural women and youth, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world, and have become a leading light in social movements organising for a vision of social and environmental justice. Built on a strong sense of unity, solidarity between these groups, it defends peasant agriculture for food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture that destroys social relations and nature.
We will hear from two leaders of La Via Campesina, who will take us back to the early days of the formation of LVC and tell the story of the birth of the movement and how it grew to be the inspiration and force that it is today. This is a history lesson that no farmer or food activist can afford to miss out on.
Jairo Restrepo is a passionate educator and activist, known throughout South America for his practical support of small farmers as well as his campaigns for their rights in the face of powerful agribusiness. He is unique in that he argues for farmers’ autonomy and self-determination but also teaches an array of practical technologies and preparations to increase soil fertility and transform cropping. He offers tools and inspiration for farmers and activists alike.
In this talk, Jairo will cover the effects of industrial agriculture on our soils, diet and ultimately on our souls. After many years of working as a government scientist, he does not reject technology but wants us to recognise farmers as guardians, innovators, researchers and quiet revolutionaries. He writes, “We don’t want to change technology; we want to transform society, thereby changing the technological proposal. Today the opposite occurs, the dominant type of technology proposes a society subjugated to industry. My dream is to construct a being, an ideal state of a being, so that I shall not be the ideal being of the State".
Drawing from his knowledge of biochemistry, Jairo has developed a set of low-tech practices that help remineralise the soil and increase photosynthesis through the use of biofertilisers. These have been widely adopted throughout South America and are now spreading in Africa, America and Europe. His talk will cover some examples of this work and the impact it has on living systems and human diet.
In this talk, Adilen Roque, National Coordinator of Peasant-to-Peasant Agroecological Movement of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) of Cuba, will explain the history of the peasant-to-peasant methodology, as well as how this methodology helped to spark an “Agroecological Revolution” in Cuba which today includes more than 100,000 peasant families growing healthy food for their local communities, and has made the country more resilient against the cruel 60-year economic blockade imposed by the United States.
Seed Guardians from four Latin American countries share their views and experiences regarding traditional seed saving, organic seed production, networking and the challenges with new laws and regulations. The situation may be difficult, but hope is rising!
In the last two decades, the consolidation of agribusiness in Latin America has pushed traditional farming to the fringes of agriculture. Genetic erosion, or the disappearance of traditional seeds, has been a direct effect of this. It is not just the seeds that disappear, but the cultural practices and food identities with them. Without the adequate seeds, real agroecology is far more difficult to implement. Even the programmes aiming to help farmers and indigenous peoples in the development of organic systems often fail to address this issue, or to understand the need to build local systems that are culturally and ecologically adequate.
The members of this panel have been working to build up and expand regenerative food systems that sprout from the management of traditional seeds. They propose a different way to address the common problems of farmers in Latin America, from the bottom up. But they have been challenged by the interests of big agribusiness and the complicity of the State, with laws and regulations that punish Agroecology and the small farmer. In this session, they will share their struggles and the strategies that have developed to transform society with the seeds in their hands.
Rosibel Ramos and Kenia Baca Merlo tell their story of how they overcame multiple forms of gender inequality and violence in rural Nicaragua by founding and helping to run the women’s farming cooperative, FEM (Foundation Between Women), which produces coffee, vegetables, honey, wine and hibiscus as well as running its own schools, self-defence groups and community seed banks.
From Estelí in Northern Nicaragua, the two generations of women share their struggle against multiple forms of inequality. Rosibel Ramos, a founding member of the FEM, left behind a life of violence and poverty and at 60 graduated from university. She eventually became the President of the FEM cooperative or Las Diosas (The Goddesses) as they call themselves, which provides a huge infrastructure for women in similar situations. She will be joined by Kenia who joined the FEM as a teenager and is now a sociologist, beekeeper and farmer.
Together, with their 1,500 all-female peers, they collectively run eight agricultural cooperatives, educational programmes for women and girls, community seed “reservoirs” and womens defense groups to confront gender-based violence. The aim is to emancipate women through a strategy of ideological, economic and organisational transformation.
Rogelio and his daughter Michel Simbaña of the Kitu-Kara Nation share with us their experiences of 20 years, starting with a mini organic garden and growing up to two interconnected farms in different ecosystems, their work with their local community preserving the Sacred Mountain Ilaló, and the organic shop they opened in February, just in time for the Covid-related food crisis.
Rogelio was born and raised as a poor indigenous farmer. When he was 7, his mother gave him a couple goats and told him: “now you have to look for yourself. If you want to study, you will have to pay your own school.” The following years, developing his goat herd in Mount Ilaló, were crucial in his development: he forged a strong connection with the mountain and the native forests there. He was then drafted into the army, fought in a war, got a job in agrochemical agriculture after that, became really sick. He then decided to return to his roots, and accepted an underpaid job managing a tree nursery for his community. This gave him the opportunity to work with native trees.
In 2003 he connected with the Seed Guardians Network and was hired as a technical assistant and a farmer’s educator. Since then, his life has turned into a permaculture adventure, becoming one of the most recognized leaders of the regenerative movement in the country and helping hundreds of farmers to develop their pathway out of poverty and into Sumak Kawsay, the Good Living philosophy of their ancestors.
The transformation of the food system relies on the effective organising of locally rooted movements and struggles around the world. This work is impossible without challenging approaches rooted in the dominance of colonial languages (in particular English, French and Spanish) and without structures and platforms that ensure and facilitate for everyone’s voices and languages to be heard.
Agroecology at its heart respects the traditions and linguistic heritage of diverse land based cultures. Therefore, it must examine the history of the dominance of the colonial languages (English, French and Spanish) and discuss the pivotal role interpretation plays in social movement organising. In this session we will hear from interpreters working with La Via Campesina and other global grassroot farming groups and learn how ways of knowing the land can change with different languages.