La Via Campesina - food and farming for the Earth

Food Sovereignty is a concept aimed at ensuring farmers and local communities have control over their food systems and that these are fair and sustainable, with caring for the environment a vital key. Joel Catchlove of Friends of the Earth Adelaide reports that, La Via Campesina (LVC), an organisation at the forefront of the global Food Sovereignty movement for the past 15 years, is making an historic first visit to Australia this month, with representatives visiting Adelaide and Brisbane. Joel says La Via Campesina (Spanish for “the peasant way”) is considered to be the largest civil society organisation on the planet, representing the interests of some 500 million farming families, many still using traditional methods. According to the LVC website, La Via Campesina promotes a model of peasant or family-farm agriculture based on sustainable production with local resources and in harmony with local culture and traditions. Four members of LVC from Japan, Timor Leste, South Korea and Indonesia will arrive in Adelaide on Thursday 24 June, 2010. Hosted by Friends of the Earth Adelaide, the delegation will spend two days meeting with local farmers and food and farming organisations. On Friday 25 June 2010, the delegation will lead a public forum on “Food Sovereignty and the future of farming”, from 6.00-7.30pm at the Box Factory Community Centre, 59 Regent Street South, Adelaide. Joel says this special public forum will discuss among other topics: • The emergence of La Via Campesina and its work internationally
 • The role of small farmers in addressing climate change
 • The experiences of youth in rural areas, and young peoples' international action for a just and sustainable food system • Strengthening the global movement for food sovereignty through relationships between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The LVC representatives will then travel to Brisbane on June 26, hosted by Food Connect Brisbane, the Food Connect Foundation and Reciprocity. Over two days (27-28 June) farmers from across the country will connect with one another and with members of La Via Campesina to talk about the future of food and farming in Australia, and globally. Nettie Wiebe, the first female President of the Canadian National Farmers Union, a founding member organisation of La Via Campesina, will be joining the discussion via Skype. “Agriculture is the junction of the need for food and saving our ecology”, says Ms Wiebe. “Family farms and farming families are on this ecological frontline.” Since hearing about the visit of La Via Campesina, I’ve asked Joel to write a story for the issue after next of Organic Gardener on their work around the globe. As yet they have not established a base here in Australia, which is one of the reasons for their visit. For more information on the events contact: • Rob Pekin (Food Connect Brisbane) robert@foodconnect.com.au; 07 3216 7777 • Joel Catchlove (Friends of the Earth Adelaide) joel.catchlove@foe.org.au; 0435 631 524 • For more information on La Via Campesina, visit viacampesina.org/en Photo by Joel Catchlove: An urban farm in Bamako, Mali, taken during from the Nyeleni World Forum for Food Sovereignty, Selingue, and in Bamako, Mali.

By: Steve Payne

First published: June 2010

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