Driving through rural parts of the US state of Illinois, it’s easy to feel that you’re lost in an endless sea of industrial agriculture: corn, soybeans, and mechanized farming equipment stretch to every horizon. But hidden throughout are small family farms, trying to support themselves and their communities with diverse varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and livestock as they have for generations. Stewards of the Land, LLC is an alliance of family farmers clustered around the town of Fairbury, Illinois. By working together they’re able to get their food into more local markets and restaurants, making ecological farming more profitable and helping ensure it will be carried on to the next generation. To learn more, visit Stewards of the Land’s website. Photo by CinCool (CC BY 2.0)
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) has spent decades fighting for the rights of the Garifuna people, who emerged from a history of colonialism with the knowledge that small-scale farming and fishing can bring liberation and autonomy. Through women’s empowerment, legal action, community radio, and local assemblies, OFRANEH’s defense of the Garifuna has come to encompass land rights, cultural expression, and food security. Learn more at OFRANEH’s website.
In just two decades, the Chikukwa permaculture initiative has transformed six villages in Eastern Zimbabwe from a state of chronic food insecurity and severe environmental degradation to one of food sufficiency, community self-reliance, and ecological regeneration. The Project’s training programs in permaculture have been complemented by other capacity-building initiatives focused on conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, health issues, local education, specialized skill development, and more. To learn more about the Chikukwa Project, and to watch a film about the initiative, see theChikikwa Project website.
The Real Food Store is the first community-owned grocery store in Exeter, UK – but it’s so much more than your average grocery: it’s a vibrant hub reconnecting local consumers with local producers, and reweaving the fabric of local interdependence severed in the process of globalization. To learn more, visit The Real Food Store’s website.
In 1965, a group of 200 Tokyo women – tired of getting low-quality milk at unaffordable prices from the large milk companies that dominated the dairy market – banded together to create a collective purchasing club. From this humble beginning, the Seikatsu Club has grown into a federation of 32 cooperatives with nearly 350,000 members (over 90% of them women). Despite its size, the Seikatsu Club has maintained a decentralized structure to facilitate human-scale, face-to-face interaction between members and producers. To learn more, visit the Seikatsu website, or read AsiaDHRRA’s profile of their work.
Thimble Island Ocean Farm uses “3D ocean farming” to grow sustainable kelp and seafood, rejuvenate ecosystems, combat climate change, and create local jobs along Long Island Sound. Greenwave, meanwhile, supports ocean health by training and supporting a new generation of ocean farmers and innovators. Sound a bit confusing? It’s definitely worth reading more. Visit the websites for Thimble Island Ocean Farm and Greenwave – be sure to watch the short films! And read this article on Medium written by Thimble Island founder Bren Smith.
In July 2018, Todd Township in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania adopted a Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning industrial agriculture. Under this law, all animals must be owned by local citizens and the majority of farm revenue must stay within the township. Residents, together with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), created the bill to protect the town’s water supply, environment, rural landscape, and family farming culture from corporate farms. See the CELDF press release for more information.
Transfernation, based in New York City, brings excess, untouched food from corporate cafeterias and events to soup kitchens, churches and homeless shelters. Recognizing that food waste and hunger are more issues of distribution than of supply, the program mobilizes contracted drivers and volunteers to pick up and drop off food on demand, delivering it to local distribution programs. As of June 2018, Transfernation has redistributed more than 230,000 pounds of food to nearly 200,000 people. For more information, visit the Transfernation website and read an interview with the founders in this article by Global Citizen.
Vrihi & Basudha were originally established to save heirloom rice varieties, and to encourage the non-commercial exchange of seeds among local farmers. After nearly 20 years, Vrihi is now “the largest folk rice seed bank in eastern India”, with over 940 endangered varieties in its collection. Basudha, meanwhile, serves as an interdisciplinary research farm where sophisticated ecological studies are conducted to evaluate the differences between chemical versus ecological farming systems. Read more about Vrihi & Basudha in this Medium article.Photo by Jason Taylor