Western consumer culture spreads the message far and wide that farming is stupid, village life is backward, and young people must move to cities if they want to progress. But young people in the remote Gambian villages where Africa Organics works have access to a lot of things most people in cities – especially in the industrialized countries — lack; land of their own, clean water and fertile soil, knowledge of how to grow food and build houses in a sustainable fashion. The Home Farm Project helps young people who want to stay in (or return to) their villages establish permanent, diverse, sustainable farms, and works to lend prestige to Gambia’s traditional knowledge and skills. To learn more, visit http://www.africaorganics.org. Photo by Home Farm Project — By Bioversity International (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Across the United States – where one acre of farmland is lost to development every minute – young farmers are having an increasingly hard time finding affordable land. Agrarian Trust works to come up with various unique ‘commons-based’ approaches to land ownership to strengthen local and regional food and farm economies. In doing so, they’re able to permanently protect farmland for sustainable agriculture and preserve its affordability for new and disadvantaged farmers in communities across the country. Learn more at www.agrariantrust.org.
The Babahan Subak Association in the Tabanan province of Bali is a water-sharing farmer cooperative that upholds traditional organic farming methods and maintains an educational gathering space to share the practice, history, and spiritual and cultural significance of rice farming with locals and visitors. The association grows heritage varieties of rice according to the Balinese calendar, creates its own organic fertilizer from cow manure, and – among other traditional practices – builds owl boxes to encourage these natural predators to control rodent populations. Learn more about the association’s organic rice growing activities by visiting theUma Wali website(in Indonesian), and learn more about current educational programs by emailing Kadek at[email protected](bilingual).
This small business based in Christchurch, New Zealand, allows the city’s residents to host their own beehives – and produce their own honey – by offering fully managed bee hives for rent to the home gardener. Learn more athttp://www.beezthingz.co.nz.
France’s Drôme Valley, consisting of 54,000 inhabitants in 102 small towns and villages, has undergone a paradigm shift towards organic agriculture over the past few decades. Today, 40% of the valley’s farmers use organic practices, compared to just 8% nationwide. The Biovallée Project, formed in 2009, is working to accelerate this trend and steward a region-wide sustainable development masterplan that will serve as a blueprint for the rest of France. The 204 members of the Association of Biovallée Actors work with government at the district and national level to plan and implement alternative energy production, conversion to organic agriculture, waste reduction, local food procurement for institutions, land use planning to slow urbanization, and more. To learn more, browse through the Biovallée website (in French) and read a detailed history of Drôme Valley’s organic production in this report from iPES-Food.. Photo by SMRD (CC BY-SA 3.0).
This map is aimed at catalyzing the voluntary transfer of land and resources to indigenous people and people of color who are eager to build a life in agriculture, but are stymied by systemic injustices. Indigenous/POC farmers and aspiring farmers can list their projects and resource needs on the map, where they can be contacted by people with resources or money in the bank, and provided with the tools they need to grow nourishing food for their communities. Due to the US’s lasting legacy of slavery and discrimination, indigenous and POC farmers routinely suffer from a lack of financial means, institutional support, and connections in the realm of agriculture, where 95 percent of farms are operated by white farmers. Begun by Soul Fire Farm, the map is designed to be part of a larger effort to deal with this legacy, while in the process connecting people across racial and class divides in a mutually empowering way. View the map and read more on Soul Fire Farm’s website. And read more about some of the outstanding projects featured in the map in this Medium article.
Bristol Food Producers is a community benefit society and network of independent farmers, distributors, and retailers in Bristol, UK. The network provides mentorship for aspiring young farmers in the area, through a land matching program, skills development courses, access to markets, and events for socializing and networking. It also actively builds solidarity among existing local food producers, with the aim of scaling up local, sustainable, fair food production so that it can challenge supermarkets as the primary providers of food in the city. Visit the Bristol Food Producers and Bristol Food Network websites for more information.
Cargonamia takes a fun approach to shrinking food miles with three separate projects: an organic vegetable farm (Zsamboki Biokert), a do-it-yourself bicycle cooperative (Cyclonomia), and a self-managed bike delivery company (Kantaa). The three come ￼together to create an urban food distribution hub that uses locally-manufactured cargo bikes to deliver locally-grown food across Budapest. To learn more, visitCargonomia’s website.
In 2011, Chololo, a village of 5,500 people in the semi-arid drylands of central Tanzania, created a system for testing best practices for climate adaptation and food security. With guidance from Tanzania’s Institute of Rural Development Planning, farmers organized into groups to pilot more than 20 ecological methods in agriculture, forestry, livestock management, and water conservation, and share successful strategies with other groups. The villagers saw significant improvements in crop yields, nutrition, and food security after just two years, and the program expanded to three more villages in 2015. Read the case study in this report from iPES-Food, and visit the Chololo Ecovillage website to learn more. Photo by Michael Farrelly
Ten years ago, the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture created the concept of “bio districts”, in which farmers, governments, and citizens across a geographic area work together to develop economic strategies around organic food production and agroecology. Cilento, the first of Italy’s bio districts, encompasses 37 municipalities with 400 organic farms which work together to enhance land access for young farmers, simplify organic certification, procure local food for nearby hospitals and schools, promote local agroecological farming traditions, and more…