Creating Alternative Food Futures (update)

As noted here, with Joe Murray (Afri), Fergal Anderson (Food Sovereignty Ireland), Seamus Bradley (Derrybeg CSA), and Nathalie Markiefka, I co-organized an event back in April called Creating Alternative Food Futures: Food Sovereignty in Ireland and Beyond. The event was to recognize April 17, which is International Day of Peasant Struggle. La Via Campesina and its member organizations and associations use April 17 as a day to reflect on the victims of violence in rural areas across the world who are trying to gain access to land and a space in which they can pursue food sovereignty.

We organized the day around three themes – resist, transform, and build – with each theme explored by a different format. ‘Resist’ was introduced by Hanny van Geel, from European Coordination Via Campesina, and a musical contribution from Imogen Gunner and Sean Conway.  Then Dr. Chiara Tornaghi (Research Fellow in Urban Food Sovereignty and Resilience at the Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience, Coventry University, UK) gave a splendid keynote on “Food sovereignty in the food dis-abling city? The urban-rural rift and the need for an urban political agroecology.” You can find links to some of Chiara’s fantastic work here or here.

‘Build’ was a panel discussion hosted by Davie Philip of Cultivate / Cloughjordan Eco Village and consisted of three-minute overviews of how food sovereignty informs the work of Fergal Anderson, Food Sovereignty Ireland; Rachel Dempsey, Lourdes Youth & Community Centre; Louise Fitzgerald, Young Friends of the Earth; Thais Montovani, Latin American Solidarity Centre; Michael O’Brien, Trocaire; and Ciarán McCollum, Dublin Food Co-op.

Finally, ‘Transform’ began with a short film about the challenges facing smallscale food producers and peasants in Europe, followed by small group discussions, and then some more music, this time from the artist known as Roj.

A short video about the event, kindly produced by Afri, is available below:

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the very generous support I received from students in the Geography Society of the Department of Geography, Maynooth University; the Department of Geography, Maynooth University; the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University; the Maynooth University Conference and Workshop Fund; the Green Campus initiative, Maynooth University; Afri and Food Sovereignty Ireland.

I’m planning a follow-up event for 2018. More (much more exciting) news to follow!

Alistair Fraser



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