Reclaim the Fields European Assembly 2015 – Final Practical Info

RTF Assembly Web
About Reclaim the Fields

Please update yourself on the functioning, process and previous discussions of the RTF constellation before the assembly:

Registration

First of all thanks that you have registered, if you know about friends that haven’t done so yet, please urge them, thanks!

Register here: http://reclaimthefields.org/form/registrationfortheeurtfassembly2015

When and where to arrive:

Meet us to be able to welcome you at Sumac Centre, Nottingham – blogs.xtreamlab.net/sumac/find-us/ map: goo.gl/48jAjH)

The first day (Thursday 8), we’ll have dinner at 7pm, like the other days. Afterwards we’ll take a time to introduce how we -as preparation group- propose to work during the assembly (in terms of facilitation, group agreements, timing, translation, …). After that we’ll start introducing stars (collectives, struggles, … ) of the RtF constellation.

[ if you arrive during the day, no worries, you will be able to help us out to further set up things, and get involved in a ‘star hunt’ to get to know each other]

We would like to invite everyone to think of a way you prefer to introduce your star/struggle (picture/movies can be nice, we’ll have a beamer). A question that might help you to think on how to do this might be: “How do you see your link with RtF?”  
remember :) Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and re-assume the control over food production.)

What to prepare (for the following days)

A proposal of the meeting’s timetable can be found here, to have a better idea about content.

On Friday there will be ‘discussion’ groups on the following themes:

  •  Reformism and Radicality in the food sovereignty /access to land movements.
  •  The ‘alchemy’ of social change: how can we bridge the rural-urban divide
  •  Access to land

We invite you to prepare a little bit and, for the discussion you’re interested in, to bring infos about your local context / experience.

On Sunday we will be discussing proposals where the next assembly/camp might take place. So great if you can check within your groups/collectives beforehand if you want to make a proposal

We also invite you to bring ideas for the evening time: movies, games, music (if you know band that want to come and play, let us know! If you have DJ or other talents, bring
the stuff needed) – it could be nice to think of games, dynamics that you did/use within your star/network

What to bring:

  • Don’t forget your sleeping bag and mat
  • Feel free to bring food to donate to the kitchen collective Veggies.
  • If you have any special dietary requirements (besides being Vegan), please let us know.
  • There is internet access. For helping us to type notes and so on, it could come handy if you bring a laptop.
  • Bring info-material about your projects/collectives, about struggles happening in your region, zines, or whatever you want to share
  • Bring seeds to share and swap

Disabled Access
The Sumac Centre has a level access entrance at 73 Beech Avenue (behind the centre). There is a disabled access toilet.

Bar
People who bring alcohol to the gathering that were hoping to share it/sell it will need to speak to the Bar Group (for the bar that runs at the centre on Friday and Saturday.)

Children

  • There is a kid’s box with various things e.g. toys, books. (but please bring along any of their other favourite toys)
  • We are able to allocate you in a ‘child-friendly’ house if that would better fit your needs.

Travel reimbursements:

As you read or not, we will be able to reimburse travel costs if you need them, this will be done in cash during the gathering.

Donations for Food

We are suggesting a donation of £5 per day for all your meals & drinks. The cost will be spread on a collective basis anonymously, if this amount is not possible for you.

We will also happily accept any donations towards Reclaim the Fields activities :)

Contact us:

Phone number: (0044) (0)7516653765 (The phone will be switched on Thursday morning 9am)

Reclaim the Fields European Assembly

RTF Assembly Web
When: Thursday 8 – Monday 12th of January 2015.

Where: Sumac Centre, Nottingham (blogs.xtreamlab.net/sumac/find-us/) map: goo.gl/48jAjH

Why: The goal of this meeting above all is to meet up to see where we are at with our European Reclaim the Fields constellation and to exchange information amongst the stars and local groups. It will be an occasion to put in practice new forms of organisation which have been decided upon at the last meeting (in Austria). As it will take place in the UK, we also want to create stronger links with people and collectives present there and exchange on local dynamics.

This meeting will be a working and reflection space for local/regional groups and on themes present within RTF. As such it is mainly meant for people already active in the constellation, or which are aware/informed on the dynamics and last discussions of the network. But everybody is welcome!
Program:

  • Thursday 8th – arrival, in the evening presentation of the different groups/collectives/people/stars of the RtF-constellation
  • Friday 9th – working groups and thematic debate
  • Saturday 10th – organisation of the camp and next meeting
  • Sunday 11th – writing up notes of the meeting, if needed more time for the working groups
  • Monday 12th – collective work at Sumac Centre

A detailed agenda proposal will be send before the meeting. If you have any proposals or questions concerning the content please contact: contactrtf@riseup.net

Why there and why at that moment?: We choose to have this assembly in the UK to create more links with the UK and Scotland RTF groups who have been having regional meetings themselves. You can find out more about this here

We choose these dates (as besides our garden/farm activities might be more relaxed at this time a year) as it follows the Oxford Real Farming Conference (an alternative to an agro-business conference happening simultaneously) taking place just before the assembly in Oxford (UK) on 6th and 7th of January. The program you can find on oxfordrealfarmingconference.org. All RtF-ers are very much invited to take part (take into account there is a participation fee of about £35). The Landworkers Alliance (UK branch of Via-Campesina) is facilitating a whole day at this conference. Reclaim the fields UK and Europe as well as the newly formed Groundspring network (a new entrants to farming support group made up of organic, biodynamic apprentices and others wanting to make change and get into farming) are very much invited to share their experiences on how we can procreate changes to move agriculture forward.

Travel: Nottingham is right in the centre of the UK, accessible by affordable coaches and trains (from London, trains:the oxford tube and oxford express. Coach: the mega bus and national express. From oxford to Nottingham there will be a few lifts and some buses. We are applying to a fund to try to cover travel costs. So please let us know when you would come and what your possible travel expenses may be. So if the fund gets through, great; if not we will try to help each other out -so anyone who wants to come, is able to do so!
Some websites to check international travels (keep in mind that advance booking lowers the costs!) Megabus: uk.megabus.com (around 40 pounds single) Eurostar: booking in advance now seems to cost 88 euros return from Paris: www.eurostar.com/fr-fr/calendar/londres… IDbus: fr.idbus.com/fr Eurolines (buses to london) : eurolines.com

Info about the host: The Sumac Centre is a volunteer-run social and community centre based in Forest Fields in Nottingham. They host multiple radical & community groups and are run on non-hierarchical principles. They have a lot of indoor space available for the assembly and indoor accommodation at both the centre and at the Housing Cooperative across the road. They run on a sliding-scale basis. We will be able to access beds/floor space/showers & warmth in the winter!

Food from Veggies: Veggies, a cooking collective based in this centre will organise the cooking and local food supply. They are a vegan cooking collective supporting campaigns for humans, other animals and the environment since 1984. Even so we will help with the cooking, and any produce that people want to bring is definitely appreciated! We can connect with the multiple growing & food related radical projects in Nottingham (such as ecoworks.org.uk / summerwood.org.uk/).

Call-out for funding: We have accessed some funding to support with travel costs. Please email contactrtf@riseup.net

Registration: *Please fill in this registration form to let us know that you are coming and if you are coming by car/van this is particularly useful as then we can organise lift/car sharing as much as possible.

Seeds: « Reclaim The Seeds » invite you to bring your self produced seeds and all the pedagogical material that seems relevant, in order to swap seeds and discuss about it.

Some more practicalities:

– ALCOHOL: there is a bar, when the bar is open, please use it, when its closed its ok to drink your own

– DOGS: we are still checking with Sumac Centre about their dog policy. If you want to come with a dog, please contact us before at contactrtf@riseup.net, so we can talk about it.

– KIDS: people with kids are welcome! We are trying to organise a special space for children at the meeting. If you plan on coming with kids, please contact us before contactrtf@riseup.net in order to talk about what you need there in order feel comfortable.

– LANGUAGES: thanks to the bla collective, there will be interpretation into three or four languages depending on the needs of the people present at the meeting.

Contact: If you have any questions concerning logistics or content of the meeting please contact contactrtf@riseup.net!
See you all there!

Some background on the last European meeting and general RtF-info At the last European meeting in February 2014 in Nikitsch/Austria we worked on the functioning of the RtF-constellation. This is what came out: We still understand RtF as an organizational constellation of stars which is in constant movement and process. Stars are persons, collectives or projects who/which share the RtFs values and relate themselves and their work to the RtF goals. The stars are organized and meet in local networks which are autonomous and have their own objectives. The local networks are the base of the RtF constellation since it is essential for RtF to work from the bottom up. Apart from the local networks, there are seven working groups (website, bulletin, translation, finance, propaganda, infokiosk and a group organizing the next meeting). And five thematic groups (seeds, farm network, gender, access to land and presentation of RtF).

On the European level there are three different kinds of meetings:

    • Functional meetings once a year during winter time. The objective is to get feedback from the working groups, plan the camp, get news from the local networks and have an exchange about what is happening in the different local contexts.
    • Thematic meetings take place whenever people/local networks/working groups organize one. The idea is to work on specific topics. This can be for example a discussion of concepts, an exchange on agricultural techniques and knowledge or the support of a local struggle.
    • European camps take place in summer and are bigger and take longer than the other meetings. The objective is to make RtF grow by „going to new places“, support local struggles and share skills, knowledge and ideas. h2. The last two camps took place in Rosia Montana/Romania in 2011 and in Manheim/Germany in 2013. There is the proposal to do the next camp in 2015 in Chalkidiki/Greece.

Hungry for Land – Small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland

 GRAIN/La Via Campesina media release

P1000967Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world’s agricultural land. When the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but didn’t once mention the need for land reform. Instead, he announced that family farms already manage most of the world’s farmland – a whopping 70%, according to his team.

But a new review of the data carried out by GRAIN reveals that the opposite is true. Small farms, which produce most of the world’s food, are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland – or less than one fifth if you leave out China and India.

“We are fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN. “The overwhelming majority of farming families today have less than two hectares to cultivate and that share is shrinking. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.”

Marina Dos Santos of the Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST), and of La Via Campesina, states: “Today, the peasantry is criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. Currently, there are an alarming numbers of deaths that go unpunished. States have created legal concepts such as terrorism and sabotage to intimidate our struggle. Every day we are exposed to the systematic expulsion from our land. This affects not only peasants fighting to stay on the land, but also many other small farmers and indigenous peoples who are the target of greedy foreign interests. We want the land in order to live and to produce, as these are our basic rights against land grabbing corporations who seek only speculation and profit.”

“People need to understand that if the current processes of land concentration continues, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on,” said GRAIN’s Camila Montecinos. “The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.”

GRAIN’s report also provides new data that show that small farmers still provide most of the world’s food, and that they are often much more productive than large corporate farms. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. Women are the major food producers, but their role remains unrecorded and marginalised.

The international agencies keep on reminding us that we need to produce more food to feed the growing population. But how much more food could be produced almost immediately if small farmers had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they are facing today?

“The vast majority of farms in Zimbabwe belong to small holders and their average farmsize has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60-70% of the national food before land redistribution. More women own land in their own right, which is key to food sovereignty everywhere”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, General coordinator of La Via Campesina.

We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems. Something peasant organisations and landless people’s movements have long been fighting for.

Contacts:

Mr Henk Hobbelink, Spain (EN, ES, NL): +34933011381, henk@grain.org

Ms Camila Montecinos, Chile (EN, ES): +56222224437, camila@grain.org

Ms Elizabeth Mpofu, Zimbabwe (EN): + +2634576221, nkbnyoni@yahoo.co.uk

+ + + + + +

GRAIN’s new report, Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland provides an indepth review of the data on farm structures and food production worldwide and comes to the following 6 central conclusions:

  1. The vast majority of farms in the world today are small and getting smaller
    Due to a myriad of forces, average farm sizes have shrunk dramatically over the past decades, particularly in Asia and Africa.
  2. Small farms are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland
    Despite what the UN and others report, small farms occupy less than 25% of the world’s farmland today – just 17%, if we exclude India and China.
  3. We’re fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
    One major reason why small farms are disappearing is the rapid growth of monoculture plantations. In the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland in China – have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone.
  4. Small farmers continue to be the major food producers in the world
    By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families – not commodities or export crops. GRAIN compiled staggering statistics that show how, even with so little land, small farms produce the bulk of many countries’ food supply.
  5. Small farms are technically more productive than big farms
    Industrial farms have enormous power, clout and resources, but small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.
  6. The majority of small farmers are women, yet their contributions are unrecognised and marginalised
    Women’s immense contribution to farming and food production is not captured in official statistics and they are discriminated against when it comes to controlling land in most countries.

The report is accompanied by illustrative maps and a fully-referenced dataset. Available for download at: http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929

More on the farmers’ struggle for land: “Land is life! La Via Campesina and the Struggle for Land” at: http://viacampesina.org/downloads/pdf/en/EN-notebook5.pdf

Reclaim the Fields Gather-In

A very informal meet-up has been organised for people involved in the Reclaim the Fields Constellation in the UK over the last couple of years before the Oxford Real Farming Conference (http://www.oxfordrealfarmingconference.org/) in January.

This is a chance for us to touch-base, reflect and think about the constellation and any plans for the future.

Where: Oxford Action Resource Centre at the East Oxford 44 Princes St, Oxford OX4 1DD

When: 4- 7pm, Sunday 5th January 2014