The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Agroecology Popular in Latin World

I came across several good articles on agroecology this week.  First, Lois Ross at Rabble.ca feels we have a lot to learn from Cuba’s agroecological revolution.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union Cuba’s export market for sugar fell.  “It did not have the currency to import petroleum or petroleum-based fertilizers to continue cultivation of monocultures on large state farms. And it had no currency to import food. The Cuban people were getting hungry!”

These dire circumstances fostered the kind of creativity and research that led to Cuba becoming:

…a huge incubator farm for organic and sustainable models of agriculture. As the new millennium dawned, Cuba received The Right Livelihood Award (often called the Alternative Nobel Prize) from the Swedish Parliament for its Herculean efforts in sustainable agriculture.

For more than 25 years, Cuba has been modelling its food production on agroecology and applying organic agriculture to a multitude of small-scale projects. To this day, it’s held up as a model in the development of sustainable agriculture with farmer-to-farmer tours, tours for international agriculture students, and the hosting of researchers from around the world doing field work to assess and write about the island’s advances in feeding its own people.

To the west in El Salvador, telesurtv.net covers the women and social movements that employ agroecological techniques to cultivate land in an environmentally sustainable way that helps to regenerate the land’s biodiversity.

If the land does not give us corn, it will give us something else,” said one member from Las Mesas cooperative in the province of La Libertad. “We have cassava, we have orange, chili, tomato…that way, we always work, because if we can’t harvest one thing, we will harvest another.


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Native Peoples Use Traditional Knowledge to Adapt To Climate Change

Rosalyn Lapier talks about how Native peoples are using traditional knowledge to adapt to climate change:

For those who do not spend time outdoors it may be difficult to fully appreciate the change that is occurring. But for those who live off the land, such as farmers, ranchers, and those with subsistence lifestyles, climate change is having a real impact. It impacts the health and well-being of countless Native peoples who rely on gathering plants for both medicinal and edible purposes. More importantly, climate change impacts the spiritual life of Native peoples.
But we are adapting. The Blackfeet, similar to other tribes, schedule their ceremonial activity according to seasonal cycles. But with the cycles destabilizing, we now need to adjust each year to the volatile weather. For example, the Blackfeet conduct their Thunder-pipe ceremony at the sound of the first thunder which marks the return of rain. At the ceremony, serviceberries (Amelanchier alnifolia) are planted to celebrate the renewal of life. Traditionally, first thunder occurred in spring. The first thunder now happens much earlier in the year, sometimes even in the winter when it is unwise to plant in Montana.
The Blackfeet are now in the process of adapting and evolving to what some environmentalists call a new Earth. The TEK I learned from my grandmother is from the old Earth. However it still has value and the Blackfeet will continue to find new ways of gathering plants, new methods of identifying changes in our weather, and ways to further our traditions. Climate change will continue to affect the Blackfeet’s environment, ultimately impacting our lifestyle and spiritual life. But as we learn new TEK practices, we will be able to work better with nature and continue the process of transferring our “new” Traditional Environmental Knowledge to the next generation.

You can find the full article and video here.


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FAO Announces International Symposium on Agroecology

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will host an International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition on September 18 and 19, 2014. The symposium, at FAO headquarters in Rome, will explore recent scientific research and knowledge around agroecological practices, promote open dialogue, and showcase existing experiences and programs on agroecology. Food Tank is excited to be participating in this event.

The event will bring together international experts in the field of Agroecology and falls within the new FAO Strategic Framework, which aims to “increase and improve provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in a sustainable manner.”

The symposium will provide a forum for taking stock of the current state of science and practices of agroecology. Discussions will focus on current initiatives underway around the world contributing to the development of an international framework for research on agroecology, with consideration of economic, social and environmental aspects in industrialized and developing countries.

The symposium aims to produce an action plan for a follow up process in Africa and Asia including potential activities in the context of the FAO Strategic Framework. Following the symposium, the FAO will release scientific proceedings and other informational media content for online sharing.

Registration is now open for interested participants.

Maia Reed holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University and recently received her Permaculture Design Certificate.


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Organic Farming – Solution to World Hunger

The following article by Paul Hanley in Saskatoon’s The Star Phoenix succinctly lays out the benefits of organic farming and the issues with industrial farming.  To summarize it in a nutshell, “We need to start paying farmers for ecological services, not just food. The money can come from repurposing perverse subsidies on fossil fuels and farming, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be over $2 trillion a year worldwide.”

It’s been a good year for Saskatchewan’s organic farmers. First, prices for some organic crops are quadruple those of conventional grains. Second, due to the vagaries of the rail transportation system, organic growers have had more success getting their crop to market this year than conventional farmers. And since they do not use chemical inputs, costs are lower, resulting in higher net income.
Actually, it’s been a good year for organic agriculture worldwide.
The organic approach is gradually shedding the “it can’t feed the world” myth. In fact, report after report came out this year saying it may be the only way to feed the world, even as the population rises by 50 per cent over the course of this century.

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Live Streamed Lecture by Vandana Shiva

Arts-Vandana Shiva poster

Internationally renowned eco-feminist, philosopher, and activist Vandana Shiva will be paying a visit to Winnipeg this weekend, and while her ticketed event is now sold out, local organizers have arranged an alternate, free live-streamed teach-in.

Shiva will be speaking to a group of paying attendees on the evening of March 28 as part of the “Fragile Freedoms” lecture series, presented by the University of Manitoba’s centre for professional and applied ethics, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the CBC.

On March 29, Shiva will be giving a lecture about Earth democracy from 90 Sinclair Street, which will be broadcast as a live-streamed teach-in to other locations across Canada, including a secondary location in Winnipeg.

The organizers of this event state that “there is no lecture hall or community centre with the capacity to hold everyone who should hear her inspirational and empowering message,” which is why they are offering this free, live-streamed event “in the spirit of decentralized knowledge-sharing and radical self-education.”

The notion of radical education, and radical self-education, is part of a larger movement to create spaces of knowledge-sharing outside of formal educational structures.

British scholar David Hicks believes that in its current form education “inevitably reproduces the social, political and economic norms of the dominant ideology. In the west this is capitalist, technocratic, individualistic, materialist, and patriarchal.”

In contrast to the Fragile Freedoms event, the teach-in on March 29 is free, and organizers of the second Winnipeg location—the University of Winnipeg Womyn’s Centre and the Women’s and Gender Studies Students’ Association—are attempting to make it as accessible as possible.

Free snacks, coffee, tea, bus tickets, and childminding are all offered as part of the event. It’s also being offered in a wheelchair accessible room in proximity to accessible washrooms.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept of Earth democracy, organizers of the teach-in provide a definition to use as a starting point before hearing Shiva’s thoughts: “Earth democracy is the worldview that we as humans can be part of a healthy planet, but we must take action to protect peace and swaraj (sovereignty) for all living beings: Let us learn about our right to water, our right to seed and to food, and our right to life.”

Join in the live-streamed teach-in at 7:00 p.m. on March 29 at room 2M70 at the University of Winnipeg.


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UN Report Calls For Radical, Democratic Food System

Cambodia Sugar Cane

By 

The current global food system needs to be “radically” and “democratically” changed in order to alleviate global hunger and serve human rights over the profits of major agribusiness corporations, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

“At the local, national and international levels, the policy environment must urgently accommodate alternative, democratically-mandated visions” which go beyond the goal of profit maximization and instead rebuild local and sustainable food models, said Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter, while presenting his final report (pdf) to the UN Human Rights Council, finalizing his six-year term.

“Food democracy must start from the bottom-up, at the level of villages, regions, cities, and municipalities,” the rights expert said.

“Food security must be built around securing the ability of smallholder farmers to thrive,” he emphasized. “Respect for their access to productive resources is key in this regard.”

The current system, says De Schutter, has instead created a world monopolized by the big-agro “green revolution” of mono-cropping, industrialization and pesticide-heavy techniques, which has boosted agricultural production over the past 50 years but has “hardly reduced the number of hungry people,” the report states. Continue reading


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Acroecology – the Future of Agriculture

The Down to Earth blog asks, “Is Agroecology the future of agriculture?”

Lately, the word “agroecology” has been making the headlines in France, owing to the parliamentary debates on the bill for the future of agriculture. The French Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, is in fact aiming to make the country a world leader in agroecology. Continue reading