The agro-industry, coupled with rising food prices and food speculation, directly contributes to the current global ecological and economical crises. Currently, 800 million people in our world do not have enough to eat, and 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry. Being deprived of land, of water, of their own seeds, and of the right to trade locally, communities all over the world have become dependent on global food supply systems. In India, the country with the largest body of surviving small farmers in the world, thousands of farmers unfortunately commit suicide every year.
Genetic engineering and seed patents; corporate control of people’s food; and the over-reliance on pesticides and herbicides, are all part of the reasons behind these grueling numbers. Everywhere, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find healthy, safe food. Realising that the tomatoes, strawberries, or grapes that we feed our children, contain high levels of pesticides, have been grown under inhuman work conditions, and use resources, like energy, water, and soil, in unsustainable ways, is painful.
Alternatives are needed. This is why many ecovillages all over the world are implementing ecological farming methods and aiming for food sovereignty: the ability to grow all the food needed locally while regenerating the soil, water resources and biodiversity. This work does not end at the borders of the ecovillage: including neighbours; learning from, and teaching, local farmers; trading food in local markets; creating regional strategies for reforestation and natural water management, are all contributions to achieve sustainable food autonomy in a region.
It has been shown that ecological farming can increase yields, build resilience against pests, and nourish richer, more fertile soils, while at the same time decreasing pollution through pesticides. Growing our own food in a sustainable way everywhere on the planet will be the most effective non-violent revolution in these times of globalisation. Ecovillages play a major role in this movement.
This newsletter shows examples from every continent of how ecovillages and transition projects create regional food sovereignty while deepening the bond with the land they live on and the people they live with.
May we realize, here and now, that long before the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, that we can’t eat money.
We wish you great inspiration!
Kosha Anja Joubert, President GEN International Leila Dregger, Jenefer Marquis, editors
Results of the Survey on Ecovillages and Food Sovereignty
17 projects took the time to answer the questions on food sovereignty. The answers came from the USA, from Africa, from Asia and Europe. Thank you all very much. Of course this survey can never be representative in a scientific way, but it helps us to have an overview on the state and intention of the ecovillages on growing their own food. See the results: Read more
The (R)evolution of Agroecology – Future Farms as Ecosystems
Modern mechanised agriculture is already the most fossil fuel intensive industry. This feature will increase when, in order to feed a growing world population, we have to grow more than 50% of our food; as representatives of global agribusiness currently assert. Ethel Chiodelli explains why this is wrong and biased thinking, and why agroecology and small farms are the future of modern farming. If we shift paradigm, the problem becomes the solution. Read more
A Voice from Kenya: Join the Real Food Revolution!
Come together locally,
grow your own food without chemicals,
share and exchange with your neighbors,
generate income with the surplus,
save the seeds,
recycle your waste and make compost,
learn to treat water as a living being,
cook with solar energy (or biogas),
build sustainable models,
and join the global food revolution.
Philip Munyasia, www.otepic.org Read more
Kenya: Food Sovereignty as a Way to Achieve Food Security
Food sovereignty is a critical alternative to food security that asserts that not all ways of realizing food security are equal, says Victor Odula – GEN Ambassador from Kenya. He reports about the Rodi Ecovillage´s initiative to improve nutrition on the shores of the Lake Victoria. Read more
Namibia: Permaculture is Our Culture
Northern Namibia produces food abundantly for their families, communities close by, and also the Namibian community at large; their food can be found in the local markets of most major towns, as well as the capital city. On a trip to her homestead, Clio Pauly found, tasted and enjoyed a traditional Permaculture and Gift Economy society. Read more
The Gambia: Sustainable Kartong – Eco-village Development and Responsible Tourism
Kartong in The Gambia is a special place, with a wealth of, hitherto, unrecognised assets including unspoilt, deserted beaches, and great tourism potential. From 21st Feburary to 20th March 2014, a very special Ecovillage Design Education – EDE – took place here. It was the culmination of a long held dream that originated in 2007, when the Secretary General of the Village Development Committee of Kartong attended an EDE in Findhorn Ecovillage. Vicky Stallwood reports. Read more
Congo: The Solar Mama Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Solar Mama Astride Kapinga, and the women of her rural community, explain how they feel about the Solar Mama Project, stressing their struggle and suffering without electricity. Astride explains how this energy project – thanks to Bunker Roy and the Barefoot College – will help change and improve her, and other peoples, lives in the village of Mbulungu, in the Kasai province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. See a Youtube-video. Read more
GENOA – Oceania and Asia
Japan: “Before cultivating a field, cultivate your spirit” – Food Sovereignty of Konohana Family
Japanese people believe that the land is a gift from the Ancestors. This is why they do not want to sell it. Therefore, local elders often ask the Konohana Family to manage their land. As a result, more than 95% of the land that Konohana Family uses is free, and sometimes the ecovillage gets paid to cultivate the land because the government will charge owners a higher tax if it is not used for cultivation. “The financial crisis happened, but it did not affect us at all since we produce most of our food by ourselves”, reports Michiyo Furuhashi. Read more
Philippines: Fasting for the Climate
One of the biggest contributors to the global use of fossil fuels is food production. Each calorie of processed food requires an average of 10 calories of fossil fuels to produce, process, package, and transport goods from the farms and factories, all the way to the shops and dining tables of the world. Bahay Kalipay and Maia Earth Village in Palawan, Philippines invite intentional communities and ecovillages, to join the Global ‘FastfortheClimate’ movement. Sarah Queblatin and Pi Villaraza write about the background. Read more
China: The Current Situation of the Second Home of Lifechanyuan
Last year, GEN started a campaign to protect the largest ecovillage in China, Lifechanyuan. But the authorities were stronger still. On April 1st 2014, the last two Chanyuan celestials withdrew from Yunnan, which means that the three branches of the Second Home of Lifechanyuan located in Anning, Chuxiong, and Lincang city have ended their development. The new place of the ecovillage is in the Gobi desert, 5000 km from their original location. With immense courage they start to apply permaculture principles to green the sandy, dusty desert. Xuefeng, the founder, reports Read more
CASA – GEN South America
Brazil: Community Gardens in the Largest Metropolis of the Southern Hemisphere
Public parks, abandoned lots, pavements and even churches: in Sao Paulo every piece of land has the potential of turning into a community garden. After all, where food is planted citizenship grows! Henny Freitas reports: Read more
Argentina: Food Sovereignty at a Family and Regional Scale in EL Peregrino
The Agro-ecological farm, El Peregrino (The Pilgrim), is a project whose economic base is food production for residents consumption as well as for sale to the public.The farm was founded 18 years ago in Vista Flores, Mendoza, Argentina, by Ignacio Pereyra and Ana Pérez. With their children, María Jesús, Rodrigo, and Azucena, the family began to unlearn the forms and structures that degenerate life, so as to be able to learn from nature and the life rhythms that foster well being in the World. A report by Vainilla con Canela, a volunteer at El Peregrino and founder of Canal Permacultural: Read more
Colombia: The victory of a Afro Colombian community in the fight for their territory.
On May 8th, something historic happened. The government of Colombia finally acknowledged that a black community owns the Caribbean islands it inhabits. After waiting for eight years, the community of Isla Grande and Isleta, in the Rosario Islands, managed to obtain a title that gives them Collective Land Tenure. They never thought they would have to go to the high courts, or that would become an example of the demands of basic rights of ethnic groups, but they did! By Paula Rangel Garzón1, Margarita O. Zethelius, and Carlos Duran: Read more
ENA – Ecovillages North America
USA: Radical Governance Changes in Two North American Ecovillages
USA: Radical Governance Changes in Two North American Ecovillages Two North American ecovillages – Earthaven in North Carolina and Dancing Rabbit in Missouri – have recently implemented new governance and decision-making methods. “As an admitted community governance nerd”, Diana Leafe Christian says, “I am fascinated by how communities govern themselves and make decisions, and how they innovate new methods when things don’t seem to be working right. I’d like to tell you about these, because they exemplify a growing trend among communities internationally to innovate new governance methods or try alternative ones.” Read about Earthhaven´s change of methods here.
Read about Dancing Rabbit´s change of methods here
LAND AWAKENING – Exploring Our Relationship with the Land.
LAND AWAKENING is an independent feature documentary film. While volunteering at organic farms in the Mediterranean, Mexican-Canadian filmmaker and director, Raul Alvarez, embarked on a personal journey to learn about organic agriculture, and other technologies, to grow and gather food, creating an inspiring film about the goodness and generosity of the Land, but also about his own life transformation. In the GEN Europe conference 2013, Raul already showed his results. Now the documentary is finished. He reports about his work: Read more
GEN Europe and Middle East
Palestine: Decentralized and Organic Food Technology in the Westbank with Solar Dryers
To have peace in Israel-Palestine, the mentality of scarcity needs to be replaced with an awareness of abundance, because the conflict is based on the fear that there is not enough for everyone: not enough land, not enough water, not enough energy. In the frame of the Global Campus, in the process of founding GEN Palestine, Aida Shibli made another step in food sovereignty in organising seminars to create abundance on a farm of the Westbank. Frederick Weihe reports: Read more
Germany: Ecological Gardening in ZEGG
The German community ZEGG wants to establish a circular economy, which they consider to be a sustainable model for the future. In this regard, they use renewable resources, turn waste into usable materials, and encourage decentralised cooperation for food production. Cordula Andrä reports: Read more
Hot Oil in Italy: Food Sovereignty in Damanhur
Only 20 months have passed since the “Federation of Damanhur” in Northern Italy started the latest pioneering self-sufficiency project of its community. They have called it “olio caldo 4” (Hot Oil), and aim to achieve food sovereignty for the community within one year. Within the community of Damanhur, with its 600 members and 25 ‘nucleo’ families, the project was entrusted to the nucleo Prima Stalla. Capra Carruba reports: Read more
Last Minute: Come to the GEN-Europe Conference – and Become a Friend of GEN