New Yorkers welcome small farmers

La Via Campesina is the international movement that brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity.

A delegation from Mexico and the Dominican Republic recently participated in the Grantmakers Without Borders Conference in New York City for their work on violence against women.

Following the conference, a welcoming dinner organized by Christina Schiavoni of WhyHunger, provided them the opportunity to meet food activists and other New Yorkers who share opposition to corporate driven agriculture.

In the past two decades many local groups have expanded or newly formed that support food initiatives. Community supported agriculture associations (food-buying clubs) have proliferated in the metropolitan area.

Community garden federations find solidarity with Michelle Obama who has a garden on the grounds of the White House. Even local politicians are concerning themselves with how food is grown and access to quality food. Activists advocate for fresh produce being available in neighborhoods that are “fresh food deserts.”

Organized on short notice, this dinner event at 1199 Headquarters in Manhattan attracted a diverse cross section of New Yorkers and offered the international activists hearty hospitality and a chance to share their work and learn about local initiatives.

Among those present were representatives from Just Food (interested in city farms), many Greenmarket staff members (farmers markets), Greenthumb (urban gardening) members, Black Urban Growers, and participants with Sunset Park-based La Union (emigrant and economic justice organization).

Activists with the Community Farm Worker Alliance based in southern Florida spoke about the work they do with low-wage emigrant laborers in Florida. Also speaking were Nancy Ortiz-Surun and Demetrio Surun from La Finca del Sur, a community farm in the South Bronx.

La Via Campesina comprises about 150 local and national organizations in 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas –it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation. It strongly opposes transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

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