Indigenous food systems, both in pre-Columbian times and now, are poorly understood by the Western world. Over the millenia, Indigenous food scientists have generated a wealth of biodiversity within the global food system, with 70% of the world's variety of foods come from the Americas. Indigenous peoples perfected–in hundreds of types of bioregions and ecotones)–low energy input-high energy output land management practices. For example, the Haíɫzaqv (ˈheɪltsək) Nation of British Columbia, Canada hand plant massive kelp forests along the shoreline to generate more surface area/spawning ground for herring fish. Their eggs/roe provide a massive caloric foundation for the entire island system, ultimately feeding sea lions, whales, salmon, wolves, birds, humans and more. Indigenous food systems are about life. Reinvigorating systems that give health and vitality not only to human beings but to all lifeforms, who are not seen as resources, but as relatives who we must relate to on a nation to nation basis.
Agroecological food systems will not reach critical mass if there are just small “islands” of agroecological farms. Mechanisms for scaling up are essential. This session will explore how and why the state government of Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state with a population of 54 million, works with women's self help organizations to support millions of farmers to transition to agroecology. CMNF is one of the most promising initiatives in the world in massively scaling up agroecology.
In this session, Vijay Kumar will discuss the radical initiative that is Community Managed Natural Farming with the Communications Lead of the AgroEcology Fund, Amrita Gupta. They will explore how natural farming is based on universal principles of agroecology and regenerative agriculture but is contextualised in local conditions and encompasses farmer’s wisdom.
**Many apologies, this session has now been cancelled due to ill health.**
Richard Perkins is an innovative farmer, educator and the author of the widely acclaimed manual Regenerative Agriculture. He is also the co-owner of Ridgedale Farm in Sweden where he teaches farm-scale permaculture. His blogs have been viewed more than 9 million times and he has over 100,000 Youtube subscribers for his live trainings and online courses.
Richard spent 2020, talking with past students across Europe in his Farm Like a Hero series.
Having dedicated his career to demonstrating effective and replicable models for small-scale regenerative farming, Richard will reflect and discuss the trends, models and business approaches that are creating success for so many new farmers all across Europe. He says there’s never been a better time to grow food!
A great opportunity to join Richard live and put your questions directly to him.
In his talk, Tom Philpott will discuss his new book The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It, which argues that the US model of chemical-intensive, regionally concentrated agriculture is undermining the ecologies the two main places where it alights: the California Central Valley and the corn belt, centered around Iowa. He'll put the argument in a global context, explaining that the same set of transnational meat, grain-trading, and seed/pesticide companies that dominate US farming also are also prevalent in other global commodity-production nodes—Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine—placing farmers in a cutthroat competition that can only be won by the companies themselves, at the expense of these crucial ecologies and ultimately global food security.
The current agricultural system has forgotten the purpose of trees and plants and their benefits for all living beings on the planet, leading to an irreversible situation where temperatures are on the rise and the human race might not have a home in a few years. The signs are blatant; fires, drought, lack of water, higher extinction rates, etc. So what will we do to ensure our future?
Simple and efficient solutions exist and it is up to every farmer to choose the right techniques to deal with the climate crisis. Indigenous people give one example of how they play their part in protecting life on earth. They have always taken care of nature as if it were their own body and go with the motto that you reap what you sow. Benki has been practicing agroforestry for the past 30 years and shows us how this system constantly regenerates soil and generates biodiversity.
Severine von Tscharner Fleming is an organic farmer and founder of Greenhorns - a radical, young farmers organisation in the US which produces the literary journal for working agarians, The New Farmers Almanac. Since 2013, Severine has also served as a founding board president of Agrarian Trust - a national organisation working in the framework of the commons to raise the issue of land succession.
In this session, Severine will deliver learnings from a decade of action with the young farmers movement, and an analysis of how inter-generational collaboration, and a commons-based approach to land tenure and stewardship may offer our brightest hope for food sovereignty and regional resilience. From her work with Greenhorns and the National Young Farmers Coalition in the US, Severine believes that the struggle for land access is the number one obstacle for young people entering agriculture, and particularly for organic farmers from a non-farming background.
This year more than any has shown how resilient agroecological farms are. Many farms in China's CSA network have performed very well during the pandemic, both economically as well as being responsive to the needs of the consumer who realised the essential necessity to eat good, healthy food to boost their immunity in the face of the "pandemic enemy”. The effect of this is that producer-consumer relationships have grown and changed in that the bond is now much closer.
Being able to eat organic, healthy food that has gone from "farm to table" in 24 hours has engendered a deep mutual gratitude in CSA members. The pandemic generated a fighting spirit on the side of both producers and consumers. This brought out the essence of community supported agriculture which is that the relationship between farmers and consumers is stable, mutually supportive, and collaborative.
Join Shi Yan, an organic pioneer and the founder of the first CSA in China. She now runs Shared Harvests, a CSA which now provides food for over a thousand families in Beijing.
The discovery of bacteria as a cause of disease ushered in a 'sterile' era - giving us a century in which medicine and agriculture killed off germs, insects, weeds, and other perceived pests in hopes of improving life, without understanding that all living systems are nested, and that we cannot kill off parts of the biological workforce without threatening the whole. This 'get rid of bad things' approach now sneaks in everywhere, even with the best intentions: for example seeing/selling soil carbon as a way of getting rid of atmospheric carbon.
Can we embrace a more "fertile" paradigm of care for our inner and outer landscapes? Didi Pershouse, author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities will show how climate cooling is a biological dance, how the hidden biological economy enfolds our own, how the sterile paradigm took hold of our fears and imaginations, and how people can learn to work in fertile collaboration with other species - and with each other.
To change the world you need to tell a story which will inspire change and that is exactly what Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer have done at La Ferme du Bec Hellouin. Described by Eliot Colman as the ‘United Nations of all the best sustainable farming ideas’, Perrine and Charles have drawn their inspiration and knowledge from so many different sources; they incorporate the modern techniques of bio-intensive ‘micro-agriculture’ into the broader context of permaculture, but also traditional learnings from the Parisian market gardeners and what they call their ‘barefoot mentors’.
In this session, Perrine will show how all of these learnings influenced the farm’s design, from the Mandala garden, the island garden, ponds, companion planting, bio-intensive planting, terraces, layering, the forest garden, raised beds, mulching, the use of perennial plants and an abundance of trees. She will show how Permaculture gives us the tools we need to design productive human systems that take their inspiration from nature and living ecosystems.
Perrine and Charles’ story is heartwarming and gives us all hope for the future. It is a shining example of how farms can be places of abundance, of healing, of beauty and of harmony and how human beings can be an essential and positive force for good. This is a session not to be missed!