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.
Initially started as a buying club, the Urban Co-Op in Limerick quickly grew into the city’s only full-service member-owned grocery store, with more than 1,300 members. The co-op sources locally-grown foods from more than 70 suppliers, and also features a Community Wellness Hub with yoga and exercise classes. Plans for a community teaching kitchen with healthy cooking classes are also underway. To learn more about the Urban Co-Op and the local food businesses they support, visit their website.
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.
Tosepan is a network of cooperatives with 35,000 members in Puebla, Mexico, dedicated to constructing a holistic, sustainable, locally- and democratically-controlled economy rooted in the indigenous culture and knowledge of the Sierra Norte. Tosepan is comprised of three civil associations and eight cooperatives, which together cover basic needs including organic ecological farming, natural building, local healthcare, decentralized renewable energy, and local finance. They also actively oppose globalization, and have successfully resisted corporate development projects including a planned Walmart. Read more about Tosepan in our Planet Local Medium article.
Vestigium, a sustainability-themed community center in Croatia’s capital city, was created by six local women who recognized the need to combat the isolation of modern consumer culture by strengthening the local community. Vestigium has just opened the country’s first zero-waste café, Život, featuring locally sourced organic food bought in bulk with no plastic packaging. The center also offers classes in organic food production, a community-run library, and environmental education and waste reduction programs in the local public school. Visit the Vestigium website (in Croatian) for more information.
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