Maynooth University’s Festival of Food Sovereignty, April 14 2018 


Festival of what? Food sovereignty.

Oh right, what’s that then? Well, food sovereignty is a contested concept. I think it’s about trying to build democratic control over the global food system. Others say it’s about ensuring local people have access to land or food; or that food sovereignty is about ensuring food isn’t used as a weapon or that food systems aren’t entirely controlled by transnational corporations.

Is food sovereignty a thing in Ireland? Yes it is. There’s actually a calendar of events this year where food sovereignty is coming up for discussion.

Oh, and now there’s even a Food Sovereignty Prize, which the group Food Sovereignty Ireland have launched. Those recognized by the prize will be named at an event in autumn.

OK, so what’s happening April 14? We’re hosting a festival with talks, conversations, workshops, music, art, food, and activities for kids on the day.

Is it really a festival though? It is, yes. It’s definitely not just a workshop or a conference. We’ve got music throughout the day. And staff and students in Maynooth’s Education department and the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education are putting together a really cool line-up of events for kids.

So what else will be happening? We’re having talks, conversations, workshops, and artistic interventions curated by academics in the departments of Sociology, International Development, Geography, Adult Education, and Anthropology. Then we have contributions from some important groups who are constructing food sovereignty today, including Dublin Food Coop, Irish Seed Savers, Community Supported Agriculture Ireland, Afri, Cultivate, and Trocaire.

I suppose you’re having a big-name speaker? Yes! Jun Borras, one of the most important activist-scholars in the food sovereignty space – and a Fellow in the Transnational Institute – will deliver a public lecture to kick things off.

Is that it? No, of course not. We’re also having keynote listeners.

And they’ll be doing what? Listening. All day long. And then reporting briefly at the end. So far we have Peadar Kirby, a very well-known Irish activist-scholar; Anja Murray, who you might know from the popular eco-eye TV program; and two other yet-to-be-confirmed listeners.

All of this sounds great. Who should come along? Everybody! We all eat. We all have a stake in the food system. And all of us can build food sovereignty or at least embrace practices akin to that. We can produce differently, shop differently, create new alliances with others, and imagine alternatives to the current food system. The festival aims to highlight ways that all of us can make a difference.

Is there more info available? Yes, we have a web page with more details here. Come along to Maynooth. Bring the kids. Take in a talk or a workshop. And if you want to play music or chip in with some spoken word, please get in touch.

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