Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017

Don’t miss this year’s Earth First Summer Gathering that is happening just outside of London. Five days of skill sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. There will be a prisoner support space and letter writing, as well as a workshop on toxic prisons. Plus a SoilHack workshop!

For full details visit: http://earthfirstgathering.org/

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Reclaim the Fields European Assembly 2017

Check out the call-out from Reclaim the Fields for the next European Assembly:
http://reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/assembly2017-poster-1024x724.jpeg
You are invited to join the European assembly of Reclaim the Fields 2017, which will take place in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, between 18th and 22nd of January 2017. The meeting will be hosted by the community-supported agriculture project Gartencoop and will take place in the autonomous center “KTS”.

 

***About the assembly***

 

The  assemblies happen every year during winter. Generally they bring together people active in RTF constellation, but everybody is welcome. 
The goals of the assembly are:
  • meet and exchange information amongst the stars and local groups since last year;
  • exchange and debate on themes that matters to us across Europe and beyond;
  • to see where we are at with our European Reclaim the Fields constellation: what was decided last year, for what results, what we need to do to continue, and what future plans we have;
  • to have fun and build relationships between us!

 

The last European Assembly happened in January 2016 in Warsaw, Poland, and was hosted by the Radical Allotment Gardens, the Polish RtF star. You can check the last Reclaim the Fields Bulletin here.

 

***Registration form***

 

If you or your group will join the assembly please fill in the Registration Form. This is very important for the people that do the organisation, so that everything will be prepared good when participants arrive. 
If you have any suggestion for the program, there is a special place in the form where you can let us know in advance about it.

 

***Local context***

 

This year the assembly takes place in the so called “green-city” of Freiburg, Germany. The very contradictory ecologists-capital was strongly part of the uprising anti-nuclear movement, which started by empeaching the construction of a nuclear-plant at Wyhl in the 70’s. But even if throughout the 80’s a militant ecologist, squatting, feminist and antagonistic movement played an important role, social movements decreased progressively, like in most western-european towns, after the wall came down.

 

 
In our days, the 220.000 inhabitant city still has a big amount of alternative institutions and projects, for example in left media (rdl.de, cinerebelde.org, linksunten.indymedia.org), housing (syndikat.org, schattenparker.net), antira-struggle  (aktionbleiberecht.de, iz3w.org, freiburger-forum.net) or alternative food-production (gartencoop.org, lebensgarten-dreisamtal.de, luzernenhof.de).

 

But the “green rebels” from the 70’s are in power, in Freiburg and in the region, and keep cultivating the lie of green capitalism. They are bright actors, within the neoliberal and repressive evolutions we live in.

 

The people welcoming you are involved at the 300-household agricultural-cooperative GartenCoop as well as in different of the abovely named struggles. The social/autonomous Center KTS Freiburg exists since the mid-90’s and has been legalized about 18 years ago. The biggest part of the meeting will take place at the center – some of the program might be visiting farms and projects in the surroundings. We’ll shurely spend time at the asperagus, strawberry and corn-dominated countryside as well – and there is the black forrest in walking distance for walks and talks.

 

***Practical info***

 

Freiburg finds itself between Colmar, Basel and  Offenburg
and is best accessible by train and busses or the A5-motorway. (The two petrol-stations on the motorway are a bit shitty in therms of accessibility)

 

There are many airports in Zürich, Basel/Mulhouse or Strasbourg (all are between 45 and 70 minutes drive)

 

In Freiburg Bus no 11 and Tram no 5 (better) stops at “Pressehaus”. The KTS finds itself behind the railway-bridge above the main road, just  take the stairs to your left behind the bridge.

 

KTS, Baslerstrasse 103, 79100 Freiburg
+0049 /0/ 761 / 400 20 96

 

Depending  on the number of people, the accomodation will be decentralized. About 40 people could sleep at the KTS at most, others will stay at other housing-projects, wagenplatz or private flats. Accessibility for people with a disability is limited in the center. There are bathrooms and a  medium-size kitchen, computer-rooms, screen-printing and a free shop. We will have vegetables from the cooperative-farms and other friends. Hopefully the baking-cooperative can make bread for us.

 

***Contact***

 

Please spread this invitation to the stars in your region.

 

Talk at the People’s Harvest Forum 2016

missionmural1I had the privilege of being invited to speak (via skype) at the second People’s Harvest Forum in San Francisco, USA.  I was asked to speak about Food Sovereignty and Vegan Agroecology.

About the forum:

The People’s Harvest Forum is a grassroots event on working towards food justice and food sovereignty. We speak about the widespread impacts agribusiness has on our society and on the environment, and discuss ways to build alternatives and reclaim our food systems. This forum is unique in that we integrate an animal rights perspective in working towards food sovereignty. It promotes veganic gardening and farming, setting them at the intersection of food justice and animal rights movements.

Food Sovereignty and Vegan Agroecology

Below is a copy of my talk on the day. Please drop me an email if you are keen to connect these struggles too – nicole@emptycagesdesign.org

Hi Everyone,

 

It’s a privilege to be invited to speak for a second time at the People’s Harvest Forum. I’m super jealous I can’t be there. I hope you’ve had a great weekend. It is really inspiring to know events such as these are taking place, with such a strong intersection of different struggles and movements.

 

I have been asked to talk about Food Sovereignty and Vegan Agroecology. I hope to talk for about 20 mins and then leave the time open for questions and discussions within the room. Just to set the context of my work and engagement in this field – I am based in Somerset, in the south west of the UK, where I help manage four acres of land that is designed and cared for on agroecological principles. Our site is “vegan organic” in that we don’t use any inputs from farmed animals or pesticides etc. We grow organic salad and food for events that we host – which are mostly educational courses for folks in our area.

 

Three years ago I helped to start Feed Avalon, which is a workers cooperative set up to to support the establishment of socially-just and ecological food production in our local towns of Glastonbury and Street, and the surrounding areas. There are six of us, all working-class women who survive on low incomes in our community. I am the EAT Project Coordinator, EAT stands for education and training. So I organise courses in food growing and cooking and other related skills (such as community organising and popular education) for low income individuals and families in our area. We also have two community gardens, a hand-built community kitchen and a whole bunch of other projects.

 

Until I turned 21, I had never even managed a garden and I actually learnt how to grow food during a prison sentence. So for me, food growing has been truly transformational and part of this journey has been politicising my growing work and engaging with struggles for food sovereignty.

 

So food sovereignty, I believe, is something you’ve already talked about this weekend and many are most likely familiar with the term. But just to recap for folks: Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It was defined in 2007 at a forum in a village called Nyelini in Mali in Africa. It is important to note that the food sovereignty framework has come from the Global South and was birthed by La Via Campesina. LVC is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. LVC is made up of over 164 local and national organizations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation.

 

So that’s a super brief intro to food sovereignty… but for me doing this work… It was really clear for me that while I was really enjoying food growing and community food work, there were still so many people without access to land, so many folks in my area without access to decent food because of poverty… or ultimately that myself and others, were being fed by a global food system that is highly exploitative and destroying ecosystems worldwide, accelerating climate change and so forth.

 

A close friend of mine, Isy who wrote the “Another Dinner is Possible” cookbook wrote that:

 

“Many of these community food projects present us with amazing opportunities to collectively make our lives better, more sustainable, meaningful & interesting. However without a context of explicitly addressing & challenging the global exploitative food system as a whole they are basically reinforcing privilege. The system will not change because a few of us eat better.”

 

Therefore I tried to seek allies who were resisting and attempting to dismantle the capitalist food system. And in March 2011, 10 weeks after coming out of prison, I found Reclaim the Fields, who had their first gathering in the UK that month at a site called Grow Heathrow – a squatted land project set up to fight the expansion of Heathrow Airport in London.

 

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects across Europe willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. RTF began in 2007 as a kind of youth break-out group at a La Via Campesina gathering. The people that started RTF wanted an alternative to the NGO-dominated, euro-centric, neocolonialist organisations who didn’t think critically about race, class and gender and other issues.

 

I thought I would read the “Who we are statement” written collectively by stars in the RTF constellation (that’s how we like to think of projects – as part of a constellation, looser than a network but somehow more powerful). So I just wanted to set the scene of the this struggle and one of they key actors in Europe. Ok…

 

“We are a group of peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.

 

We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.

We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states.

 

We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

 

In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.

 

Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.

 

We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight.”

 

Since 2007 RTF has:

  • organized several European camps attended by hundreds of people – these tend to be in places seeking solidarity, such as fighting gold mining in Romania, or defending La Zad, a land occupation resisting an airport in France,
  •    RTF have also participated in global mobilisations with La Vía Campesina,
  •    took direct actions to fight for the land,
  •    and held assemblies each year from Sweden to Catalonia and Hungary.

 

Last summer, we organised a huge international action camp against the building of a mega-prison in Wales. It was hosted at an anti-fracking camp, and bought together people from all different struggles. We blockaded the prison construction site, built new gardens at the camp, and had tens of workshops on subjects like food sovereignty, migrant solidarity, composting gender and more.

 

So for me as a grower, and as someone seeking to build alternative models to industrial agriculture. As well as someone brought up with no land-based skills or heritage, living in the oldest industrialised country in the world, it was clear there was a lot to learn.

 

In order to build the food systems we are desiring, to achieve food sovereignty, it’s clear that we need integrated knowledge systems that draw on both traditional and indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, as well as holistic science and ongoing participatory research. This is where agroecology comes into its own.

 

Agroecology is the application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems. It is a whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development based on traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food system experiences. It has been described as a science, movement and practice.

 

In a past training I undertook with Miguel Altieri and Clara Nicholls, both Professors of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley. They shared the key principles of agroecology, that can be applied to different agroecosystems around the world:

 

  • Enhance the recycling of fertility and optimise nutrient availability without reliance on imported fertiliser
  • Create favourable soil conditions for plant growth by managing organic matter, improving soil structure, cultivating ground cover and enhancing soil biotic activity;
  • Minimise the loss of resources by way of microclimate management, water harvesting and soil management;
  • Promote agricultural biodiversity in time and space;
  • Enhance beneficial biological interactions in agricultural systems

 

As you can see – plant-based systems, without farmed animals, can put all of these principles into practice.

 

When I teach on the vegan permaculture course, I ask the students, ‘What is your favourite animal in a permaculture system?” They kind of look at me in horror thinking this course was meant to not be about farming animals. But then I ask them what about wildlife, and suddenly the go-round becomes rich – birds, butterflies, bees, moles, worms… and we begin to see that actually plant-based permaculture systems are rich with animals. They are rich with biodiversity. The difference is the animals interacting with the system are not enslaved, they are not exploited, they are self-determining. And this for me is the most beautiful thing about this work.

 

And while we are transitioning from animal agriculture, attempting to restore ecosystems and build food sovereignty, domesticated animals of course have to have homes and habitats in our landscapes. I’ve done some design work with animal sanctuaries that are planting nut trees, fruit trees and other gardens to help keep their costs down in their work rescuing abused animals, as well as supporting animal health and habitat establishment.

 

What a vegan agroecology could look like is a beautiful, beautiful vision – community gardens and farms, market gardens with quality living soil nourished by composts and compost teas, mycelium and mulching. Mushroom farms. Agroforestry projects, nut trees and fruit orchards, small-scale grain raising, allotments, medicinal plant sanctuaries… hillsides currently grazed by sheep restored into woodlands rich with wild foods for foraging and habitat for wildlife to return. Restored streams no longer polluted by fish farms and industrial agriculture. Over-fished oceans returning to life with incredible biodiversity and health. If these systems were the outcome of a food sovereignty movement, then we would also see social justice and community self-determination for human communities.

 

As an animal liberationist, working in this way by building thriving systems, is nourishing and strengthening. I have fought the state so hard (and still am in my work organising against the prison industrial complex). The industries that commodify animals and profit from their bodies are huge and overwhelming. And defeating them through ongoing grassroots resistance, direct action and campaigns is essential. However, part of this work, also needs to be re-designing our food systems – the biggest exploiter of animals on this planet, and the biggest factor determining our landscapes globally right now – therefore, I hope others can see that working to amplify agroecology and food sovereignty is essential in the struggle for animal liberation and to eradicate all forms of oppression.

 

I was also asked to share a bit about my work so I’ll end with some shameless plugs. I have a website called Empty Cages Design – it aims to bring together threads around permaculture, food sovereignty, veganism and more, as well as struggles against prison and repression. I host an annual vegan permaculture course where participants come together for 10 days in two blocks, to learn about grassroots design methodologies, gain practical skills and experience how it feels in practice. We have a unique bursary system, and unlike many other courses taught in the UK, generally have a much more diverse group coming together to learn permaculture design. I teach with Graham Burnett, who wrote the Vegan Book of Permaculture, who is a fantastic guy committed to using permaculture for liberation.

 

I have also supported the Vegan Organic Network, more intensely in past years. My current projects are developing a distance learning course that could spread veganic agroecology and plant based permaculture principles and strategies more globally and help plug the gap in this learning provision. We are also preparing for our next Reclaim the Fields assembly in Germany this January and continuing to work on a super local grassroots level with Feed Avalon. I also study and work with an organisation called Gaia University, who I can’t recommend highly enough.

 

And finally, I’d like to thank Nassim for their hardwork in making this event happen – and all the other people behind the scenes who I haven’t met yet. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you’ve been inspired this weekend to take action to transform our food systems and our world.

 

From Animal Liberation to Food Sovereignty: Talk for the People’s Harvest Forum

I felt really humbled to be asked to present at the People’s Harvest Forum in San Francisco. I gave a talk over skype, which I’ve shared below. I was super inspired by the other speakers that I could hear and all the work they are doing towards food sovereignty and social justice for non humans. I would be really keen to organise a similar event in the UK. For more info about the forum check out: http://pplsharvest.org/

Potrero-Garden

From Animal Liberation to Food Sovereignty: A Personal Story

Hey Everyone,

I’d like to say a huge thank you for being invited, it is an honour to speak and I’m gutted I can’t be physically with you all right now! I’ve been asked to focus on my personal story and introduce some perspectives on food sovereignty/food justice from an animal liberation perspective.

In this talk I’ll introduce ‘where I’m at’ and what has led me to be organising for food sovereignty. Hopefully it will generate lots of questions for critical thinking and reflection.

So, I’m Nicole. I’m 27 and live over in Somerset in the South West of England. It’s a rural county with a large mix of large/industrial landowners, and more working class communities in the towns. People are increasingly pushed out of the countryside, unable to afford rents or participate in agriculture. The UK is an extremely class stratified society and this has had a huge influence on my life. I was brought up by a single mum on state benefits. We faced most things people face – poverty, domestic violence, poor mental health & lack of access to decent food or land. Before moving to Somerset at 10, I grew up on the outskirts of Bristol where one of the first Asda (walmart) stores was open. My Nan was a key caregiver in my life and as a result, I’d spend lots of time with her where she was from in the countryside. As a result, I had a lot of interactions with animal agriculture from a young age.

When I was 9 she took me to collect eggs from a local farm that was a battery farm. I remember seeing row upon row of hens in cages. The smell overwhelmed me and the emotional impact was intense. I went vegetarian and wrote to animal advocacy organisations asking what I could do to stop this horror. This began a big process of a politicization from a very young age. I started my first animal rights group at school when I was 10 (ironically I also started an amnesty international chapter, so prisoner support has been a huge current of my life for a long time too).

Around this time the SHAC Campaign started – Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty – it was a grassroots campaign to close down Europe’s largest animal testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, who kill 200,000 animals a year and mainly test fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural chemicals and so forth. At this time the animal liberation movement was on fire in the UK. Supplier after supplier to animal labs were being closed down through grassroots pressure and direct action. I wrote to SHAC aged 11 after getting their first newsletter, I did street stalls and made prank calls to companies. I went on their first national demonstration. It all kicked off, with riot cops, thousands of people tearing through the streets. People were wearing ALF t-shirts and talking about supporting prisoners. It was electric. It felt very working class, it felt powerful. I realised the feeling of power you can get working with others as part of a movement.

So that was my life for a long time. I worked three nights a week washing up in a pub while I was at school. The weekends I was hunt sabbing, or going to demos or organising with the Anarchist Youth Network. I eventually left home when I was 16 to do organising full time. My first partner got sent to prison when I was 16, and then a different partner when I was 18. Finally at 19, my door came through for the third time as I was raided by the police and arrested for ‘Conspiracy to Blackmail’.

32 homes had been raided, with the police whittling down to 12 of us that were charged. Three people were remanded to prison while the rest of us spent nearly two years on bail awaiting trial. The first six went through a 3 month trial and were found guilty. I later pleaded guilty and entered prison in March 2009. After 19 months on remand I was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison (with two years taken off due to my plea bargain, otherwise I would have done 5.5 years).

I won’t go into details of the case or charge right now for brevity’s sake, but they were basically aiming to link the above-ground work of the SHAC campaign with the underground actions of the animal liberation front. And to these ends, they were fairly successful. They’d spent 2.5 million keeping a handful of us under surveillance for two years. They criminalised us with new laws, and were very effective in their use of repressive tactics to stop the movement in its tracks.

Prison changed my life in untold ways. I’d lived in 21 houses by the time I was 18, being inside actually took away a lot of the poverty related stress I’d experienced growing up, being shifted about and worrying constantly about money. At the time, prison was the longest place I’d lived anywhere. I felt quite grounded and able to focus on my personal development.

Obviously it was also hellish in lots of ways. Abuse/violence/sexual predation from officers was rife. The levels of self harm and suicide attempts are unimaginable, and ultimately your freedom and life is completely controlled. You are quite literally caged.

I was determined to make the most of my sentence. I got a job working in the gardens in the jail. While it was mostly frustrating maintenance work, I finally convinced them to let us grow vegetables. So we started a garden in the main courtyard, and also a large herb & veg garden in the mother and baby unit. I applied for a grant & completed a distance learning certificate in horticulture, which included a permaculture design certificate.

In those walls I learnt about how patterns of land use have shaped societies. I learnt about everything from soil science to seed sovereignty. I devoured over 250 books and started to think even more critically about the world around me. I had always been concerned about agriculture due to my veganism, and also from fighting HLS customers, who were predominantly large agr companies, however for the first time I could actually see a viable alternative to capitalist agriculture.

In the UK you generally do half of your prison sentence inside, and half on probation (like parole in the US). If anything happens you get recalled back to prison. Three days before my release I was given my license conditions – that I couldn’t speak to anyone concerned with animal welfare, or work for animal welfare in anyway. My movements were to be totally controlled, internet access restricted. I had to get permission even to have a relationship with someone. My solicitors were unable to challenge these legally and so began 21 months of my life where I could no longer speak to my closest friends in the world, lovers or comrades.

This was almost harder than prison. In an attempt to politically and socially isolate you, many of my comrades completely dropped out of the movement. My ex-girlfriend had rinsed me of the money I’d saved for my release and probation told me either I live with my mother or I go to a bail hostel (nearly worse than prison). My mum had re-married after I left home. I was nervous of living with her partners, who had a pretty bad track record of being dominating abusive men. Her now current partner, Ian, had built his own house and accumulated some capital. He bought a small house with 4 acres of land, called Brook End, where I would have to live on release.

You’ll be pleased to know it has all worked out. Ian is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. But here I am, having studied permaculture, suddenly with access to four acres of land. It was like a fairytale. So began a massive design process, that is of course ongoing. We observed the land for a year before preparing designs and making decisions. I built huge vegetable beds, where we now grow salad to sell, vegetables for courses and the family, fruit & more. I built a 30m2 medicinal herb garden. It’s a beautiful site with huge biodiversity and we manage it without animal manure or inputs from exploited animals.

I got further grants and completed a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and also worked to finish a degree in ecosocial design with Gaia University, a radical alternative education institution.

In March 2011 a call out went out for a group called Reclaim the Fields. I picked it up and edited their description, gave it to my probation officer, got permission and three months after prison I’m organising a national gathering to bring together anti-capitalist food growers.

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production.We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

I became active in the food sovereignty movement, organising local events and national gatherings. I worked with a local food charity doing food poverty work, teaching food growing & cooking in working class communities. Finally in 2013 I helped to start Feed Avalon, a workers cooperative dedicated to working for food justice in Street, Glastonbury and surrounding villages. Basically everything I’d been doing but in a more intimate area, where relationships can be more resilient and long term.

So beyond my personal story, how does animal liberation connect to food sovereignty? Are these worldviews complementary or conflictual?

I gotta be honest, and that it’s been a hard journey that has really revealed to me the complexities of social change and how to navigate different worldviews. In fighting fracking and unconventional gas exploitation in my local area, I’ve had to work with dairy farmers, do public meetings with large landowners, very aware that people that are opposed to the developments probably hunt foxes at the weekend.

In organising for food sovereignty, I’ve had to give out leaflets that speak of the rights of people to farm animals or fish (such as in the nyeleni declaration that highlights the rights of pastoralists or small scale fisher folk). I’ve had to sit next to farmers on courses that maybe send animals to slaughter. It’s been like political growing pains, emotionally difficult beyond belief. But I really believe, unless animal liberationists become part of defining new food systems in all their aspects – social justice, freedom for animals, ecological defense & restoration – that we will be left out of the conversation. I do believe we face a common threat that is the capitalist food system.

Imagine our power if we work in solidarity more with each other. Like at this gathering now, if we challenge gentrification, resist global corporations like Monsanto or challenge the environmental racism of factory farms for a handful of brief examples. I think the time is over for single issue campaigns or movements. We gotta work together more in every single way. For me, being an anarchist means attempting to eradicate all forms of domination. In a recent book I’ve been reading the author writes how “We don’t want to build an anarchist world. We want to build a free world.”

I believe we need to be present in food sovereignty movements. We need to create beautiful inspiring models of plant based food production, while also being active comrades in struggles for self determining communities, whether that’s tearing down the prison industrial complex, resisting gentrification or fighting GM. While active in these movements we can have an influence with our worldview that animals are not ours to ‘farm’, enslave, control, cage, slaughter, or accumulate wealth from. We can keep returning to the commonly supported idea that multiple forms of oppression intersect and demand an analysis and practice that recognises the totality of different forms of domination. I know from just being consistently involved in the food sovereignty movement in the UK that my presence has ensured vegan food, or the presence of the Vegan Organic Network at events for example. We need to be actively part of all of these events and conversations, for the sake of the nonhumans we are fighting for.

Like Nassim mentioned, we have to challenge the social norms that we have to default back to animal agriculture.

Learning about permaculture has made me really feel like I know what I’m wanting to create not just resist. If you’re unconvinced I’d just say go visit a permaculture farm somewhere that doesn’t farm animals. See the soils full of life. See the amount of birds and wildlife that are free and self-determining. Taste the vegetables. This is how we could be feeding ourselves. Animal oppression isn’t necessary. We can invest our organiser energy in re-designing the world to eradicate all forms of oppression, including the commodification and exploitation of animals. This is what my heart beats for.
Thank you for listening

The People’s Harvest Forum: Food Sovereignty & Animal Rights

cropped-cornonthecob1

I feel so privileged to be part of this amazing upcoming event – The People’s Harvest Forum. I’ll be joining everyone over skype! It’s not often people are talking about food sovereignty and animal rights/liberation in the same space, let alone decolonisation and broader social justice issues. I would love to organise something like this in the UK. But for those of you the other side of the sea, don’t miss it:

The People’s Harvest forum is a Millahcayotl project: a two-day event on working towards food justice and food sovereignty. Taking place December 5 and 6, 2015 in San Francisco. 

We will speak about the impacts of agribusiness on the environment, animals and people and discuss ways to build alternatives and reclaim our food systems. This forum is unique in that we will integrate an animal rights perspective in working towards food sovereignty. We don’t believe that animals are food or that we need to exploit them to grow food.

Check out all the info & register here: http://veganic.space

More about the event:

This first event will emphasize food struggles in the Bay Area and urban spaces. How can we create and gain ownership of healthy food systems in cities? We will bring the concept of reclaiming the fields to urban spaces: reclaiming the streets and the right of the people to the city is central to building healthy, resilient and autonomous communities.

This will be a space to share ideas and skills to approach these issues from different angles and build a robust movement. It will include presentations and workshops on veganic gardening and farming, setting it at the intersection of food justice and animal rights movements.

Whether you wish to advocate for food sovereignty within a new paradigm or simply take some new skills back to your garden or potted plants, we hope you will join us!

Animal Liberation & Land Struggle Workshop Design

This is a workshop design from an Animal Liberation Gathering in Summer 2014.

With the UK and Western Europe having some of the highest land ownership concentrations in the world (1% owning 70% in the UK), the dominance of animal farming is inevitable. This workshop looks at how we can connect with struggles for access to and redistribution of land, food sovereignty and alternatives to industrial agriculture, as a way of working for animal liberation and plant-based ways of meeting our needs without exploitation.

1hr 15mins

Aim of workshop

1. To introduce animal liberation advocates to struggles around access to land, land use and food sovereignty.
2. To support participants to draw their own conclusions about potential points of intervention and connection between these movements.

Overview

1. Intro to myself, aims of the workshop

2. Introduce industrial agriculture

Use an example of a standard “cruelty- free” veggie sausage e.g. Linda McCartney. Do a popcorn to encourage people to help you complete the map of its production. See the notes below for more detail. It may be worth drawing a neat mind map and hiding it until ready to fill the gaps.

Use this as a conversation about the complexities of industrial agriculture. Does it deserve the label ‘cruelty free?’

3. How do patterns of animal abuse relate to patterns of land use? (Popcorn)

E.g. give examples hunting, fishing etc

3. Who owns this land and how is it controlled?

4. In small groups: visualise land use if animal liberation is achieved? How do we get there?

Use as an opportunity to introduce tools such as permaculture, agroforestry etc.

5. Introduce food sovereignty.

Give Food Sovereignty handouts. Briefly introduce Reclaim the Fields, UK Food Sovereignty Movement

6. Emphasise complexity. E.g. How there will be people at food-related events with different worldviews on animals. What does this mean for us? What is our role in reclaiming the food system?

7. Invite any clarifying questions. Share resources & upcoming events.

8. Close with a go-round of brief feedback & personal next steps.

 

Veggie Sausage Mindmap

Field cultivation
– Deforestation
– Enclosure
– Biodiversity decline
– Displacement of indigenous peoples
– Urbanisation/de-population
– Water use

Use of pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides
– Tested on animals
– From fossil fuels
– Pollution
– Climate change (list all those other affects)
– Manufacturing
– Water run-off
– Poisoning & wildllife
– Soil contamination

Soya Seeds
– GM
– Corporate control of seeds
– Affects on communities/autonomy

Farmworkers
– Pesticide use & health (brain damage, cancer, fertility, birth defects)
– Exploitation/slavery/control
– Poor working conditions

Health impacts
– GM
– Fats/heart disease
– Pollution from transportation

Transportation
– Fossil fuel use (climate change, pollution)
– Road building & infrastructure
– Habitat destruction
– Accidents
– Health impacts

Manufacture
– Factory workers/control/wage slavery
– Waste
– Huge amounts of energy
– Packaging waste, landfill

Retail
– Supermarket control/retail power
– Impact on local shops
– Worker exploitation

Radio Interview with Animal Voices Canada: Permaculture and Empty Cages

animvoicesradioI was super touched to be asked to be interviewed by the amazing radio station, Animal Voices Canada, who have such varied intersectional media from multiple struggles.

See the original page here and audio file here: http://animalvoices.ca/2015/02/17/dont-be-afraid-to-turn-your-pain-into-power-permaculture-design-and-empty-cages-with-nicole-vosper/

“Don’t be afraid to turn your pain into power”: Permaculture Design and Empty Cages with Nicole Vosper

If you’ve envisioned a world where animals are no longer raised to be killed and eaten as food, you may have also wondered about finding alternative means of producing real food to feed the world. Nicole Vosper brings her experience with liberation permaculture and agroecology as a potential solution. These practices incorporate an ethic of care and respect for all beings into systems that can feed people in an environmentally friendly way. Her approach differs from the mainstream focus on welfarist changes to farming that still treat non-human animals as resources that can be exploited and consumed, and instead bases her designs with the inherent ethic that all beings deserve freedom, and that we can grow food in a sustainable way without hurting wild or domesticated animals alike, including ways to integrate permaculture with farm sanctuaries.

Nicole’s work is largely inspired by principles of green anarchism and anarchist pedagogy. She claims that: “we have so much to learn and unlearn,” and in the interview, she elaborates on how that connects with activism and radical community organizing. Her views also reflect work she does with prison abolition and self-care, getting to the root of issues in our communities in ways that will precipitate real and effective social change.

 

Anti-Speciesist Gathering in Barcelona

I had the privilege of speaking at this amazing anti-speciesist gathering in Barcelona. Bringing together organisers from Bilbo, Barcelona and Madrid, the gathering was an amazing show of a movement dedicated to ending all forms of domination. There were some solid workshops and talks, on subjects such as prisons and animal farms (a comparative study), speciesism and gender, and more. Compared to the UK, the intersectional politics of people involved just blew my mind. It was inspiring and refreshing to be amongst comrades fighting for animal liberation. There was also some of the best vegan food known to man. Overall, an amazing weekend!

barcelona