Help advocate for young farmers: Take the National Young Farmer Survey

Help advocate for young farmers: Take the National Young Farmer Survey

Take the National Young Farmer Survey and let Congress know that #FarmersCount! The survey is conducted every five years by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) in order to understand and elevate the issues that matter most to young farmers and aspiring farmers. Take the survey today and share it broadly. It is crucial that the survey results represent all young farmers and aspiring farmers, no matter where they live or what they grow. Survey answers are completely confidential.

 

www.youngfarmers.org/survey

 

Cornell Small Farms Announces Support For Shiitake Viability Development

Cornell Small Farms Announces Support For Shiitake Viability Development

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The Cornell Small Farms Program announces a new two-year project funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to support the development of a new niche crop in New York state; log-grown shiitake mushrooms.

Interested farmers and service providers can learn more and sign up for updates here.

Research and development at Cornell over the past decade, along with several partnerships and research projects, has enabled greater understanding of the technical and business aspects of a log-grown shiitake enterprise. Shiitake grown on logs are a niche crop that requires a low-input investment and offers high returns that can also help offset land taxes in New York State.

Data from past research indicates that, over three seasons, a 1,000 log operation would cost $4,740 to establish and would yield 1,040 pounds of mushrooms annually and could generate $12,480 of income for the farmer each year. This rate can be perpetually sustained from year four onward and would qualify a producer for agricultural exemption in New York.

The crop is positioned for adoption by farmers who are interested in developing diversified niche crops on their farm. Over the next two years, the grant will focus on developing the following opportunities for farmers in New York:

– A printable planning tool and several online self-directed training modules will include enterprise budget worksheets, and cover important topics such as proper mushroom identification, forest management, production safety & sanitation measures, and strategic marketing. Available Spring 2017.

– A series of one-day workshops titled, “Log-Grown Shiitake: Viability for Small Farms” in five counties around New York State. Anyone who is growing commercially, starting up, or considering commercial production is welcome to attend. The workshop content will cover all the aspects of production from harvest to market.

Participants should be versed in the basics of how to produce log-grown mushrooms prior to attending the workshop. Take a class, or view our free online resources.

On the day following the workshop, current and prospective farmers can schedule FREE one-on-one consultations with extension educators to review their farm goals, resources, and discuss challenges and opportunities for their own production.

Sunday, January 29 – Franklin County CCE (Consultations on Jan 30)

Sunday, February 5 – Wyoming County CCE (Consultations on Feb 6)

Sunday, February 26 – Schuyler County CCE (Consultations on Feb 27)

Friday, March 3 – Greene County CCE (Consultations on March 4)

Friday, March 10 – Putnam County CCE (Consultations on March 11)

Cost: $30/person              TO REGISTER CLICK HERE
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
http://blogs.cornell.edu/mushrooms/VIABILITY/

Q&A with Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler: Climate Change, Water Access and Farming in Peru

Q&A with Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler: Climate Change, Water Access and Farming in Peru

72192_originalCornell graduate student and Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler spent 6 months in 2015 working in Peru collaborating with a local nonprofit, CARE Perú, to conduct surveys with 500 households in the Shullcas River Watershed.  The region is rapidly changing due to climate change and that is having implications on food security and nutrition. Mary Kate was kind enough to fill us in on the work she did and we thought we’d share some of her story.

GS: What have you been up to for the last 6 months in Peru?

MKW: For the last six months of 2015 I lived at 3,200 meters above sea level in the Central Peruvian Andes. There I collaborated with a local nonprofit, CARE Perú, to conduct surveys with 500 households in the Shullcas River Watershed. The Shullcas River links the melting Huaytapallana Glacier to the growing city of Huancayo, and provides an important source of irrigation for many small farms in between. The glacier’s rapid retreat is one of many climate change impacts projected to affect agriculture and food security in this region. Our research explores farm and household adaptations to climate change, and implications for food security and nutrition

GS: What does farming look like in the Peruvian Andes?unspecified-1

MKW: Farmers in the Shullcas River Watershed live between 3,300 and 3,900 meters above sea level, and their farming practices vary by elevation. At the lower end of that range they grow lots of maize, which is often accompanied by fava beans and modern varieties of potato. At higher elevations, farmers focus on traditional and modern potato varieties, along with other indigenous tubers including oca, olluco and mashua. Many families keep livestock for dairy, meat and fiber production, including llama, alpaca and the ever-popular cuy (guinea pig). In farming households both men and women participate in farm labor and decision-making.

Andean farms are tiny by U.S. standards. The typical farm in our study was only 0.25 hectares (0.6 acres), and 95% of farmers had less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) for crop production. Farming is mostly oriented toward subsistence rather than commercial unspecified-4production. Only a quarter of all farming households sold any crops in the market, and most of these “commercial” farms still allocated much of their harvest to home consumption. For many, crop production is not a source of income, but a
strategy to supplement a household diet that also depends on purchased foods. Most families rely on at least one source of off-farm income to make ends meet.

GS: What kinds of challenges do small farmers face in the mountains?

MKW: The interconnected challenges of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition are a daily reality for farm families in the Andes. Remote rural households lack basic infrastructure to meet their health, education, information and financial needs. Low market prices and high transportation costs limit farm profits. The climate is changing faster in the Andes than in many parts of the world, so farmers face high climate uncertainty and greater production risks.

GS: What kind of education and support do farmer training organizations offer? 

MKW: Local nonprofit organizations provide education and extension services to build community capacity and support individual success in production and marketing. CARE Perú offers technical training through workshops, demonstration farms, farmer exchange visits and private consultations. Trainings emphasize climate-adaptive farming practices, including soil and water conservation strategies and the cultivation of native crops and varieties. CARE Perú also organizes producers to form farmer associations for specific products. Farmers in these groups share information and support each other to improve production practices, often with a goal of collectively marketing their products in higher value markets.

GS: How will your results help farmer training organizations and others to better serve smallholder farmers in the Andes?

unspecifiedMKW: Our research will help to explain why some farmers chose to adopt farm management practices that reduce their exposure to climate change impacts, while others do not. We will also explore important linkages between agriculture, food security and nutrition in our study area.

While the analysis is still underway, we expect our results will help farmer training organizations like CARE Perú to better promote climate change adaptation among farmers.  Our research will also inform the design of policies and programs that link climate adaptation in agriculture with improvements in household food security and nutrition.

You can learn more about the project here:

http://www.econthatmatters.com/2016/04/the-role-of-andean-indigenous-crops-in-climate-adaptation-and-food-security-in-the-mantaro-valley-of-central-peru/

Farmer Interview : Evangeline Sarat talks Living Wages

56bb8d40a0c1d.imageSweetland Farm, in Trumansburg, NY has been in operation for 10 years. In 2015 owner/farmer Evangeline Sarat decided to start paying  her employees a living wage. Groundswell Director Elizabeth Gabriel sat down with Evangeline to talk about how she came to the decision to offer living wages, and how she is making it work on her farm.

 

EG: How did your decision to pay a living wage come about?

ES: In 2014 I began running the farm as a sole proprietor. In that year we offered normal pay. Being an only manager, I was able to make a decent salary (around a living wage), pay my loans and build equity. Plus, being a single mom, I prioritized my relationship with my kids over the farm. So I would stop farming when the kids got off the bus, the workers would still be working. That was all possible because of the farm workers.
I’ve been going to meditation retreats and developing spirituality practice. As a result, I started being very aware of this fact, that I was living this way, and my employees were not. One day the idea came to me (to pay living wages) and I couldn’t see anyway not to do it, even though I knew it was very risky.

EG: I’m sure many farmers in our area have thought about how to pay their employees living wages. How did you make it work, financially? 

ES: First, I raised the price of our CSA (2 person share) by $60-100 (sliding scale). Then, I decreased the season by 3 weeks. That was healthier for everyone. For me, my employees, the farmland. I felt like this was a reasonable request of the CSA members – asking them to support a fair community food system. I didn’t run the exact numbers, but with the new wage in place, I figured I would need 300 CSA members paying about $675 per share to make the farm run as it was. I also wrote a letter to CSA members explaining the goal of providing a living wage for my employees. I first offered it to the employees who worked here for a year (2 workers) and then by November everyone got a living wage (4 workers). It was terrifying. I didn’t know if we would run out of money or not.

EG: So what was the response? How did everyone take it?

ES: We lost some of our CSA Membership, though nobody said it was because of the price increase. (Many stated it was our location.) Members seemed to understand the concept, but some also thought that because the cost of the share increased so would the value of what was included. 

For my employees, I can see a significant change in their lifestyle and ability to live comfortably from month to month. It is definitely impacting their quality of life. And I think this opens the farm work to being an option for people with less privilege.

EG: Since you have done it, what would you say to other farmers contemplating increasing wages for their employees? 

ES: It’s a risk. So is farming. I don’t feel like it’s something that if you don’t do, you’re not being moral. I get why people can’t do it. But I was willing to take the consequences of leaving the farm if I couldn’t make it work.  I do think it would be really cool to see other CSA’s jump to Living Wage and all CSA’s increase their prices.  Everybody might lose a few members, but it could be an overall success for the CSA model.

From the Director April 2016: Living Wages & Sustainable Outcomes

Greetings Groundswell friends, farmers and supporters,

The minimum wage increase signed into law this week by Governor Cuomo is big news for all New York State businesses and employees – including farms. The bill states that there will be an increase in the minimum wage in upstate NY to $12.50 (over five years), ​while in the rest of the State the wage increase will increase to $15/hour (see below for more details). While the bill is a major accomplishment in many ways, of course, as with any bill, there are strong supporters as well as critics.

For example, $12.50 falls short of the current Living Wage in Tompkins County, which is $14.34/hour. While the same high cost of living exists for other upstate counties, the bill is accused of not recognizing the expensive cost of living in NY outside of the New York City region. Others critique the governor’s phase-in plan, saying its unrealistic and that the State should figure out a way to help small business owners pay this wage.

Groundswell seeks to build strong, vibrant communities by promoting sustainable land-based livelihoods. Though it’s not the focus of our efforts, we feel fair wages are a key to these goals; yet, we also know most small-scale sustainable farmers are unable to pay themselves a living wage, let alone their employees.  The issues are complex and financially challenging and we are just beginning to explore them in more depth. Additionally, we are exploring ways Groundswell can support regional farms to prepare for the wage increases through information sharing, workshops, and more.  To begin this effort, we are sharing a brief interview I held with Evangeline Sarat, owner of Sweet Land Farm CSA in Trumansburg. Evangeline began paying her employees a living wage in 2015 and is a Certified Living Wage Employer. Read the interview on the Groundswell blog here.

I look forward to having more conversations with you about living wages and more! Please call or email me anytime.

With thoughts of warmth for your flowering trees and plants,

Elizabeth


 

Minimum Wage—The minimum wage will increase on the following schedule:

Region Final Wage Final Phase-in
New York City $15.00 12/31/18
New York City (<10 employees) $15.00 12/31/19
Westchester & Long Island $15.00 12/31/21
Upstate $12.50 (index to $15) 12/31/20

Upstate Schedule

Minimum Wage Phase-in Date
$9.70 12/31/16
$10.40 12/31/17
$11.10 12/31/18
$11.80 12/31/19
$12.50 12/31/20

 

From the Director

Just a couple Saturdays ago, I had the huge pleasure of hanging out with some of the area’s most amazing farmers, foodies, visionaries, activists and dreamers…. and LOTS of energetic kids… at the second annual Asparaganza Festival at the Good Life Farm in Interlaken. What an inspiring community! These folks are passionate about re-learning skills, re-building farms and food businesses, and re-weaving the fabric of personal relationships that make up a strong community and local economy. They’re creating the social and economic infrastructure that we’re going to need so very badly in the coming years of climate change and all its attendant ecological, social, and institutional disruptions. 

What took me by surprise was just how many people I ran into at this gathering who were Groundswell alums and instructors! There were literally dozens of them – 20-somethings and 70-somethings and everything in between – who had participated in one or more of our training programs. I knew from our records that we have engaged 290 trainees so far in our programs. But here, at Asparaganza, was concrete evidence of the huge impact that Groundswell has had in four short years. 

Will you join us?
———-
We invite you to be part of this exciting movement! This month we are launching a new Groundswell Membership Campaign  to help raise funds to support our new farmer training programs. Your contribution of $25 or more will help us provide training and business incubation support to aspiring farmers, with programs like our Sustainable Farming Certificate Program, Farm Business Planning Course, Finger Lakes CRAFT, Farm Mentor Training, and the new Groundswell Incubator Farm. As a Groundswell member you’ll get program discounts, a cool sticker, and invitations to member-only events like our new Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gatherings for those of you want to be involved in rebuilding the food system in your own backyard.

Become a Groundswell Member Today!
=========

Click HERE to find out about member benefits and make a secure online donation. As always, thank you for your support of a strong local food system!

Joanna Green

The Quintessential Black Farmer: Sista Sophia and Lady Buggs Farm

The Quintessential Black Farmer: Sista Sophia and Lady Buggs Farm
Sophia Buggs and Lady Buggs Farm, a farm and spiritual center.

by Kirtrina Baxter

When this interview started out it was not your conventional conversation. Sophia Buggs is a magikal woman with a beautiful spiritual nature, thus this article will be quite different as hers is a story of healing and ancestral callings.  Sista Sophia, as I lovingly call her, is a spiritual advisor as well as a gardener and apprentice farmer. She has her own business, Healing Flower, a spirituality and herbal consultant company. It is this business that she plans to transition into a sustainable farm and spiritual center called “Lady Buggs Farm” on the land that she owns.

Sista Sophia’s story starts off when she inherited the house her grandmother lived in and where she grew up. She lovingly remembers her grandmother’s garden and her locally famous zucchini bread. When moving back into the house after her grandmother’s transition, she was looking for this recipe along with other hand-written recipes her grandmother has saved. It was then that she became determined to restore the garden and make it even bigger, in her grandmother’s memory.

Though she knew that she wanted to grow food, she didn’t have much experience in gardening, so she reached out to some neighborhood community garden groups. Along her introductions into garden society, she met two women who shared her grandmother’s and mother’s names and birthday’s though in reverse. It was this sign that led Sista Sophia to know she was on the right path. Believing in ancestral guidance and the infinite power of the universe, Sista Sophia went about a long journey of familiarizing herself with the tools and skills she needed to create her dream of Lady Buggs Farm.


Sustainability is also a key issue for Sista Sophia as she plans to have various programs at her future farm which will include making homemade body products, canned and baked goods and creating practical instruments out of recycled materials. The introduction to sustainable living for the people in her community is of great importance to Sista Sophia. She also has a heartfelt desire to help communities, heal, revamp and restore their neighborhoods into thriving green economies.

Since Sista Sophia is a caretaker of the Earth, she knows the personal benefits of working the land. It is this and her connection to the goddess, who IS the land, that drives her. She has been working with earth elements for quite some time in her spiritual work, utilizing herbs, crystals and natural sound to help others heal, so she sees the practical as well as the spiritual worth in land stewardship. 

Currently she is an apprentice at Goodness Grows in Ohio, where she works with special needs citizens in agriculture-based therapy. Goodness Grows is an outreach ministry to Common Ground Presbyterian church. They also maintain community gardens around the Youngstown, Ohio area and manage a farm that is in an old plant nursery. It is in that farm where she seeks solace in the fields until her dream is realized. She tells me her ancestors dine with her there as she drinks in the energy of the plants around her and the soil itself.

Groundswell Goes to Kentucky, Finds Friends in the Local & Just Foods Movement

Groundswell Goes to Kentucky, Finds Friends in the Local & Just Foods Movement
Wendell Berry greets the crowd at the SAEA conference.

By Sam Bosco, Groundswell CRAFT Coordinator

It may be strange to see Groundswell, Lexington, Kentucky (over 650 miles away), and the word “local” in the same sentence. But indeed, two weeks ago, Groundswell and over a hundred people from across the country (and some from as far as Norway) descended upon the University of Kentucky’s (UK) campus from August 4th through the 5th to engage in a national conversation about education in local, sustainable agriculture – for students of higher education, youth, and adult learners, especially those in traditionally underserved communities. 

The Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) provides the only forum for discussing education within sustainable agriculture on a national level. I represented Groundswell at the Association’s 4th conference,  presenting about Groundswell’s mission to provide diverse learners the access to knowledge and resources, through our educational programs, in order to facilitate the growth of a sustainable and equitable food system. 

In a series dedicated to new farmer training programs, I gave Groundswell’s presentation alongside the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Michigan State Univserity’s Organic Farmer Training Program, and the Farm Life Ecology Summer Intensive at Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT). The overall notion was that there is no one right way to grow a farmer and the diversity of approaches shared by the presenters is a testament to this. We all felt that each others’ offerings provided learning experiences and resource access in unique ways suited to our local context.


Through a Service-Learning field trips organized by the conference, Groundswell was able to meet and briefly partner with two organizations dedicated to bringing fresh, local food to those that need it the most. Seedleaf is small not-for-profit community garden on donated land in downtown Lexington whose mission is to “increase the amount, affordability, nutritional value, and sustainability of food available to people at risk of hunger in central Kentucky.” They accomplish this through several avenues: offering community garden space, work share u-pick, food preservation and cooking workshops, personal garden installments, garden based educational programs, community-wide composting, and food distribution.

    FaithFeeds is another not-for-profit “cooperative association of individuals and faith communities who seek to assist in alleviating hunger in the Bluegrass”. FaithFeeds engages in four main activities to support their mission: gleaning extra or utility grade produce from local farmers, cooking workshops for youth and adults, urban garden installation, and food preservation of gleaned goods. Since June 2010 they have gleaned 59,000 lbs of food; 21,500 lbs of which is from this year alone! All of the acquired food is donated, raw or preserved, to several emergency food providing agencies. Groundswell helped to glean nearly 300 lbs of peaches and yellow squash (check out the pictures on the FaithFeeds website)! Now central Kentucky has a bit of Ithaca love.

    One of the most jovial moments was during an astounding farm-to-table farmside feast at the UK organic research and CSA South Farm. The meal was catered by local chefs as well as the UK Sustainable Agriculture Program’s own chef, Bob Perry, specializing in farm-to-table meals. After the feast, we were surprised by a guest speaker: Wendell Berry, a prolific agrarian writer, Kentucky native, and friend and confidant of the College of Agriculture’s Dean, M. Scott Smith. Wendell read us his short story titled Sold, a historical and current commentary on the loss of small farms in the United States. After the reading he answered a few questions. An audience member asked him, “Mr. Berry, do you have hope?” Wendell replied, “Yes. But, hope is a virtue, we cannot assume it.” At that moment I felt his words speaking through to the core of Groundswell and I was reminded of why Groundswell (and each of the other groups at the conference) was there: to change the story of the present and help to write the story of small farms in the future.

Sam Bosco is Groundswell’s CRAFT coordinator. He is also a graduate student studying horticulture at Cornell University, where he is president of the New World Agriculture & Ecology Group.

Via Campesina: Shashe Declaration

Via Campesina: Shashe Declaration

Via Campesina, the International Peasant Movement, just released the Shashe Declaration, a culmination of a recent meeting of agroecology trainers from around the globe. The document discusses threats to food security and affirms the goals and commitments of Via Campesina as they work to support sustainable farming by farmers with small holdings. To learn more, visit http://www.viacampesina.org.

1st Encounter of Agroecology Trainers in
Africa Region 1 of La Via Campesina
12-20 June 2011
Shashe Declaration

 

We are 47 people from 22 organizations in 18 countries (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Central African Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Portugal, USA, France, and Germany).  We are farmers and staff representing member organizations of La Via Campesina, along with allies from other farmer organizations and networks, NGOs, academics, researchers, interpreters and others.  
We have been meeting at the Shashe Endogenous Development Training Centre in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe to plan how to promote agroecology in our Region (Southern, Eastern & Central Africa). Here we have been privileged to witness firsthand the successful combination of agrarian reform with organic farming and agroecology carried out by local small holder farming families.  In what were once large cattle ranches owned by three large farmers who owned 800 head of cattle and produced no grain or anything else, there are now more than 365 small holder peasant farming families with more than 3,400 head of cattle, who also produce a yearly average of 1 to 2 tonnes of grain per family plus vegetables and other products, in many cases using agroecological methods and local peasant seeds.  This experience strengthens our commitment to and belief in agroecology and agrarian reform as fundamental pillars in the construction of Food Sovereignty.

Threats and Challenges to Small Holder Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

Our region of Africa is currently facing challenges and threats that together undermine the food security and well-being of our communities, displace small holder farmers and undercut their livelihoods, undermine our collective ability to feed our nations, and cause grave damage to the soil, the environment and the Mother Earth.  
These include local and regional manifestations of the global food price crisis and the climate crisis that have been produced by runaway neoliberal policies and the greed and profit-taking of Transnational Corporations (TNCs).   Cheap subsidized food imports brought by TNCs, made possible by misguided free trade agreements, lowers the prices we receive for our farm products, forcing families to abandon farming and migrate to cities, while undermining local and national food production. Foreign investors, invited in by some of our governments, grab the best farm land, displacing food producing local farmers, and redirecting that land toward environmentally devastating mining, agrofuel plantations that feed cars instead of people, and other export plantations that do nothing to build Food Sovereignty for our peoples, and only enrich a few.
At the same time, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from Developed Countries and from the global corporate food system based on long distance transport and industrial agriculture are changing the climate in ways that directly affect farmers.  Our lands become more arid, with water ever more scarce, we face rising temperatures, and increased extreme weather conditions like severe storms, floods and droughts.  The dates of the rainy season have become completely unpredictable, so that nobody knows when to plant anymore.  The changing climate is also implicated in epidemics of communicable diseases of humans, crops and livestock.  All of this hurts farming families and affects food production.
We face TNCs who want to force GMO seeds into our countries, whether or not we currently have GMO bans, and agencies like the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) who conspire with TNCs like Cargill and Monsanto and with our governments to buy off national research and seed systems in order to sell GMO seeds. These seeds threaten the integrity of our local varieties and the health of our consumers.  The same companies even manipulate regional farmer organizations to push GMOs, and we call on such organizations to resist being used in such ways.
While our soils, agroecosytems and forests are ever more degraded by industrial agriculture and plantations, and local seed biodiversity is lost, the costs of production under the conventional “Green Revolution” model are more expensive and out of the reach of small holder farmers.  The price of chemical fertilizer on the world market, for example, has risen more than 300% in the last few years.
Faced with this bleak situation for small holder agriculture and Food Sovereignty in our region, as members of organizations belonging to La Via Campesina we take the following positions:
Positions of La Via Campesina in Africa Region 1
We believe that…
  • Agroecological farming as practiced by small holder farmers, and Food Sovereignty policies, offer the only reasonable and feasible solutions to these multiple challenges facing our Region.
  • Only agroecological methods (also called sustainable agriculture, organic farming, ecological agriculture, etc.) can restore soils and agroecosystems that have been degraded by industrial agriculture.  Even chemicals do not work after severe degradation, but with agroecology we can restore soil organic matter and fertility, along with functional agroecosystem processes and services like nutrient recycling, soil biology, natural pest control, etc.  We have seen that small holder agroecological systems have much greater total productivity than industrial monocultures, with little or no purchased inputs, reducing the dependency and increasing the autonomy and well-being of rural families while producing abundant and healthy food for our peoples. Global research by La Via Campesina demonstrates that Sustainable Peasant Agriculture Can Feed the World, based on endogenous knowledge and agroecology.
  • The global food system currently generates between 44 and 57% of global greenhouse gas emissions, almost all of which could be eliminated by transforming the food system based on the principles of agroecology, agrarian reform and Food Sovereignty.  Sustainable Peasant Agriculture Cools the Planet, and this is our best solution to climate change.
  • In order to adapt to a changing climate we need the greater resiliency of diversified agroecological systems (and water conservation and harvesting, watershed management, agroforestry, ground cover, etc.) and the genetic diversity of local peasant seeds and peasant seed systems.  We demand that our governments withdraw support from the corporate seed industry with it’s standardized and often genetically modified seeds, and instead support peasant seed systems based on recovering, saving, multiplying, storing, breeding and exchanging seeds at the local level.
  • Our national education and research systems are heavily biased toward the very industrial agriculture practices that are killing our planet and contributing to the failure of Africans to feed ourselves.  We demand the reorientation of research toward farmer-led methods and agroecology, and the transformation of curricula at primary and secondary schools levels, and in higher education, to focus on agroecology.
  • We call for an end to trade liberalization and the renewed protection of domestic markets so that African farmers can receive the fair prices that will enable us to boost production and feed our peoples.
  • We call on governments to create comprehensive programs to support agroecological farming by small holders and to rebuild Food Sovereignty, including genuine agrarian reform and the defense of peasant lands from land grabbing, the reorientation of government food procurement from agribusiness toward purchasing ecological food at fair prices from small holders to supply schools, hospitals, institutional cafeterias, etc., as a way to support farmers and to provide healthy food to children, sick people and government employees, and programs of production credit for small holders engaged in ecological farming instead of subsidies tied to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • At the COP-16 in Cancun, Mexico, the governments of the world (except Bolivia) met to conduct business with TNCs who traffic in false solutions to climate changes like agrofuels, GMOs, carbon markets, REDD+, etc., instead of meeting to seriously and effectively reverse global warming through real emission reductions by Developed Countries and the transformation of our global food, energy and transport systems.  We demand that our governments behave more responsibly at COP-17 in Durban, South Africa, refusing to sign agreements imposed by the North and by TNCs, instead supporting the Cochabamba Principles on the Climate and the Rights of the Mother Earth.
Commitments of La Via Campesina
While we demand that our governments act in all the ways mentioned above, and will turn up the pressure on them to do so, we will not wait for them.  Instead we pledge to continue to build agroecology and Food Sovereignty from below.  We pledge to take the following practical steps:
  • We will build organizational structures in La Via Campesina at the regional level to support our national member organizations in their work to promote agroecology among their member families.  This includes regional training programs, exchange visits, the production and sharing of educational materials, and the identification and documentation of successful cases in the region so that all can learn the lessons they offer. Among the structures we will build is a network of agroecology trainers and practitioners in La Via Campesina in our Region.
  • We will promote the creation of agroecology training programs and schools in our organizations, and farmer-to-farmer and community-to-community agroecology promotion programs.
  • Through our own organizations we will promote the creation and strengthening of local peasant seed systems.
  • We will document the experience in Zimbabwe of agrarian reform and organic farming by beneficiary families, as successful steps toward Food Sovereignty that we who are in other countries can learn from.
  • We will work to “keep carbon in the ground and in trees” in the areas under our control, by promoting agroforestry, tree planting, agroecology, energy conservation, and by fighting land grabs for mining and industrial plantations.
  • We will engage and pressure governments at all levels (local, traditional provincial, national and regional) to adopt Public Policies that favor agroecology and Food Sovereignty.
  • We will build a powerful small holder farmer and peasant voice to be present with other sectors of civil society at COP-17 in Durban, and at Rio +20 in Brazil, with the message that we oppose false solutions to climate change and demand the adoption of the Cochabamba Principles.  We will insist on Small Holder Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty as the most important true solutions to climate change.

 

Africans! We Can Feed Ourselves with Agroecology and Food Sovereignty!
Sustainable Agriculture by Small Holder Farmers Cools the Planet!
No to the Corporate Food System, GMOs and Land Grabbing!
Yes to Agrarian Reform and an Agroecological Food System!
Globalize Struggle!  Globalize Hope!
Masvingo District, Zimbabwe, 20 June 2011

Ithaca Crop Mob visits Meadowsweet Farm

Ithaca Crop Mob visits Meadowsweet Farm
An initiative of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming and the Full Plate Farm Collective, the Ithaca Crop Mob is a group of volunteers who meet monthly (and sometimes more often!) to lend a hand on local farms. Last month, we visited Meadowsweet Farm, home of the Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC. Here’s a summary of what we did (pictures and words courtesy of the Ithaca Crop Mob Google group!):


Last Saturday, a small band of crop mobbers visited Meadowsweet Farm, a raw milk dairy in Lodi, NY. Though the Smith family- Barb, Steve, and their children- once sold raw milk to customers directly, Meadowsweet currently operates as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), in which LLC members own the cow herd and the Smith family manages the herd and distributes the milk products to members. The Smiths have been deeply involved in the litigation surrounding the sale of raw milk in New York State, and shared with us some insights and education on this breezy September morning. Read more…


To learn more about the Ithaca Crop Mob or to get involved, visit our Google Group!