Here in their on-farm bakery, between batches of bread, Sébastien and Fabienne share their views on life as farmer-bakers.
A crisis like the one we are seeing now, along with the environmental crisis that is still going on, tells us we need to act urgently to improve how we manage land. ELC’s passionate and innovative farmers can do this while producing healthy food for local people.
Ultimately, the song of nature is call and response. It’s a collective game of gambits and counter-gambits that doesn’t have much truck with uppity soloists. So while I half agree with this website’s go-to agronomist Andy McGuire that there’s scarcely such a thing as a ‘balance of nature’, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we humans have no need to seek our own kinds of balance.
What’s now needed to create an electable left populism is longer-term community-building of another kind, promoting locally shared spaces and resources, environmental care and economic autonomy that tries to build bridges among whoever’s locally in place. That strategy is also the one that’s needed to build a sustainable small farm future. So for me it’s clear at least where to focus political energy.
The small farm that grows and provides quality products needs more than simply market access. It also needs a base of buyers who truly value its existence. Who see the small farmer as more than just a commodity choice or an archetype (Let’s buy from the hip chick, support the old man in overalls, go multicultural this week). Who instead see the small farmer as an essential part of the community.
That is why I decided to write this book. I needed to understand why our leaders, after the wake-up call of a global food crisis, remained so blindly committed to business-as-usual policies that ignored the affordable solutions all around them. These solutions could help hungry farmers eat today while giving them the natural and financial resources that could allow them—and all of us—to eat tomorrow.
The key message is that the potential of small farms for global food production is determined by economic conditions rather than biological, ecological or agronomic limitations.
The dictionary definition of ‘farmer’ is simply: “someone who owns or manages a farm”. A farm is: “an area of land and its buildings used for growing crops and rearing animals”.
“It’s what a farm should be doing, feeding local people surrounding the farm,” says Gerald, “if every farmer did that, we wouldn’t need supermarkets. It’s therapy for the farmer and for the community.”
A happy International Day of Peasant’s Struggle to you. Talking of which, I’m still struggling away trying to write my book about peasants while the rest of the farm crew are up in London protesting about government inaction on climate change, which means I’m having to do a bit of proper work as well for a change.
We need farmer- controlled advocacy organizations that are constantly alert to our particular needs as small farmers, engaged in creative adaptation to a changing agricultural reality.
On December 17, the United Nations General Assembly took a quiet but historic vote, approving the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, by a vote of 121-8 with 52 abstentions.