Today the Nyéléni Food Sovereignty Movement in Europe and Central Asia (Nyéléni ECA) launches a practical tool to support and strengthen land struggles for small and medium-scale food producers and local communities.
Land access issues, long since recognised in international and institutional spaces, are even more urgent in the current context: both due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the release of the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy, which have highlighted the importance of local food systems which can only be maintained and expanded if they have land they can use. “Your Land, My Land, Our Land: Grassroots Strategies to Preserve Farmland and Access to Land for Peasant Farming and Agroecology” brings together real-life stories, practical experiences, legal tools and more, to facilitate access to land for peasant and agroecological farmers, shepherds and mobile pastoralists, small-scale food producers, local residents, consumers, and environmentally-minded people and organisations, highlighting their crucial roles in building a more sustainable and fairer system.
In recent decades, the commodification of land has been a growing issue on the European continent. This is driven by a combination of agricultural and food policies, free trade agreements, market-dominated liberalisation, energy policies, infrastructure and mining projects, and urbanisation. It has resulted in the extreme reduction of the number of farmers; the concentration of land in the hands of the few; the ageing population in farming and the difficulty for a new generation to enter farming; volatile prices which prevent small-scale farmers from earning a dignified living; the loss of farmland; the rapid degradation of soils and ecosystems, and land being used as a pawn in the free movement of capital.
However, “Your Land, My Land, Our Land” proves that resistance is fertile and that community-based land mobilisations have expanded across the continent over the past decades. Twelve approaches each recount a variety of experiences: from the longstanding NO TAV movement in Italy, whose actions to block the creation of a high speed railway line have resulted in prison sentences for supporters, the mobilisation to “Save Roșia Montană” that created an international movement big enough to block a project to develop Europe’s largest open cast gold mine in Romania, to the collaboration between the Brussels government and the community land trust Terre-en-vue to reclaim land for local food production, the increasing mobilisation of community supported agriculture (CSA) groups to extend their solidarity as to secure land for local producers, or practical tools like building distribution networks to sell products to finance land actions, like the one the Field Liberation Movement used to sell beer in Belgium.
Each experience is useful as both a standalone tool, as well as in conjunction with the other tips, tools and tried-and-tested methods included. The handbook also provides insight into the land policies, both national policies and international instruments, which can be used to preserve farmland and grant access to it to peasants, new farmers, landless workers, local communities and for sustainable farming methods. The contributors hope that collectives involved in local struggles, land activist groups, peasant and small-scale farmers’ organisations, future farmers, organisations working on food sovereignty and just food systems, consumers’ groups, environmental groups and other food and environmental organisations will be able to use the handbook to support their work.
The release of the handbook will also be followed by a series of webinars focusing on specific handbook cases and other key land issues. A full presentation of the publication will take place on 16 June at 2 pm CET (register here), followed by more thematic sessions that focus on key cases throughout the second half of 2020.
“Your Land, My Land, Our Land” is a collective document coordinated by European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), Terre de Liens, URGENCI, Eco Ruralis, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM-EU), Real Farming Trust (RFT) and Transnational Institute (TNI), to which many allies and other organisations have contributed.
It is available in three languages (English, Spanish and French) and openly accessible in full online at: EN: Your Land, My Land, Our Land ES: Tu tierra, mi tierra, nuestra tierra FR: Des terres en commun