The Fight for the Land

The Fight for the Land History Project“We told them that our forefathers had died in good patience, and that we our-selves had been waiting in patience till now, and that we could not wait any longer – that they never got anything by their patience, but constantly getting worse.”*

In 1882, crofters in Glendale, Skye had reached breaking point. An extreme shortage of land, caused in part by the landowner turning their common grazings over to sheep farming, had resulted in desperate impoverishment. When repeated appeals for more land and a rent strike failed to move the defiant landlord, the crofters moved their sheep onto the land stolen from them.

This act was mirrored in the Braes, also on Skye, where cattle were illegally driven onto Lord MacDonald’s land. When a messenger arrived with a court order to evict fifty-three of the tenants the woman of the township

“Howling in a frightful manner and with their shawls pulled over their faces to prevent their identification… pelted the messenger and his party with stones and other missiles and forced them to retreat to Portree.” *

A run of such conflicts at the end of the 19th Century were ignited by the famous ‘Battle of the Braes’ where police officers attempting to arrest five crofters were attacked by a large angry crowd. It was to be the beginning of a revolutionary revolt in the north-west Highlands and Hebrides known as the ‘Highland Land Wars.’ It was also the climax of a land crisis which stemmed from the Clearances; caused by a feudalistic ownership system which gripped the common people in crushing poverty.

These are not events which we are taught in school because they don’t speak of battles, kings and castles. They don’t fit in with the prescribed nationalist pseudo-history which seeks complicity from a proud flag-waving people. They also don’t paint a pretty picture of those who still rule it.

The Fight for the Land is a history project which endevours to learn from our heritage of land struggle. Not just the dramatic, romantic tales; the real stories of struggle, success and failure; stories old and new. By building a narrative of resistance to land monopoly we aim to discover what has been won in the past and maybe a path for the future. This is a heritage to share. Our situation may not be as dire as Skye crofters in the 1880’s but the issues of land monopoly are the same. The Land Question is just hidden from view.

The Fight for the Land project will investigate our radical heritage by researching events, periods and stories from land struggles in the past and those happening today. This will include folk and contemporary history. A small group met in February 2014 to begin sharing in the accounts and anecdotes we have read. We plan to visit some sites of past and present resistance and to produce a zine of our collective thoughts and tales.

If you would like to get in touch or get involved you would be welcome. Email us on reclaimthefieldsscotland@gmail.com or me personally (Johnny) at meerkatcampaigner@gmail.com

*Taken from The Making of the Crofting Community (1976) by James Hunter

Posted in General | Comments Off

New zine from Reclaim the Fields Scotland

Treehouse D.I.Y.

A short zine showing how easy it is to plan and build a treehouse

STPZ cover bordered

This zine is a whirlwind run-through of how to build a treehouse.  It is part of the Secret Treehouse Project: a response to the absurd nature of land ownership and an exercise in re-skilling.  The project aims to set up a wee network of secret treehouses.  This zine came out of a weekend of sharing and learning treehouse related skills.  Use it to build your own treehouse.  Download, print and share freely, just click on one of the links below.

Secret Treehouse Project Zine – Booklet layout by rtfscotland

Secret Treehouse Project Zine – Normal Layout by rtfscotland

Posted in General | Comments Off

Take back the land zine #1 from Reclaim the Fields Scotland

cover outlined

This zine explores the land question in Scotland and particularly the historical context. How did Scotland come to be home to the most concentrated pattern of private land ownership anywhere in the world? Over the past millennium a tiny number of an elite class have stolen and jealously guarded huge tracts of land creating a land monopoly like no other. This has resulted in ecological devastation, environmental abstraction and the impoverishment of huge numbers of people. The land question is the root of our problems, but we need to know how it came about to do something about it.

This zine serves as food for thought: to inspire, enrage and entice those keen to see change over the land. Following the history of land ownership it explores why land matters to us and a few ideas of means to get some of it back. Click the link below to find it. Feel free to print it, pass it on etc.

Take back the land zine #1 – normal layout.pdf

Take back the land zine #1 – booklet layout.pdf

Posted in General | Leave a comment

RTF international gathering, Germany, 28th August – 6th Sep.

A call for UK Solidarity!

Reclaim the Fields and AusgeCO2hlt invite you to an actioncamp in Rhineland, close to Cologne (Germany), from 23.8. until 6.9. 2013. For three days we will take collective direct action against the open cast mining in Rhineland. Furthermore there will be a program including different practical and theoretical workshops, discussions and a lot more.

On the background of the struggles in Rhineland we want to facilitate an exchange of dissident knowledge and action.We invite to 14 days of networking, collective learning and discussion as well as practical activities to exchange knowledge and skills and to resist in the Rhineland.

Apart from the three days of action there will be a lot of space for Workshops and getting to know each other to create new links.The Camp is a participatory process and waits for your contribution! We are looking forward to your ideas, contents and skills to create a program together.

You are artists, activists, peasants, urban gardeners, are living on a collective farm or are active in political campaigns or groups? You want to share you experiences, pass and broaden your knowledge? Then you are welcome to do this in the course of workshops, discussions, practical work or in other ways.

We look forward to alternative ideas on topics like collective and solidariy form of living and working beyond capitalism and structures of exploitation. Everything that strengthens our diverse daily and organized resistance is welcome.

Contact us at program (at) reclaimthefields.org

Some potential themes for workshops to inspire you:

foodsouvereignty // right wing politics in eco movement // animal rights/animal Liberation // self-supply/-sufficiency // self-organisation // access to land // connecting urban and rural struggles // urban supply of rural collectives (Community Supported Agriculture, Non-Commercial Agriculture) // permaculture // Private Properties – Commons // History and development of Agriculture: Agriculture and Capitalism (Green Revolution) // land liberation through purchase of land (different means of access to land: squatting, buying, etc) // how to organise struggles, „how to do resistance“/share and learn forms of resistance // energy // botany/knowlegde of herbs and plants

What is Ausgeco2hlt?

Our Campaign sees itself as an open platform where different groups and individuals can network with each other, educate themselves and take collective action. Our aim is to organize a broad protest movement against RWE¹ and for the immediate shut down of the open cast mines in the Rhineland coal fields.

We see the protest against brown coal as part of a global climate movement against Coal-energy, the exploitation of shale gas, Carbon-dioxide storage, etc. and stand in solidarity with energy struggles against fossil-nuclear capitalism.

We are convinced that in order to facilitate a true energy transformation, monopolised power structures have to be questioned and we have to change the rules of the game of the concurrent economy, built upon limitless growth and consumption of resources.Thus we support initiatives for self-determined ways of living as an alternative to superfluous consumption. At the same time we demand a collectivization of energy companies and a decentralized energy supply with renewable energies.

What is Reclaim the Fields?

Reclaim the Fields is a europewide constellation of peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, as well as alternative ways of life.We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

Seeds

The “Reclaim the seeds” working group invites people to come with selfproduced seeds and any document they think would be nice to share. With the practise of seed swap’s we want to reflect about the subject of seeds collectively.

A Camp welcoming Children

The Camp is meant to be a children friendly space, where children and their affinity persons have a space and are included in actions, the program and other camp activities. We are aware that political actions and camps often contain obstacles for parents and affinity person of children and thus exclude them. Taking into account the real needs of children and affinity persons we want to create a space for everyone. Please feel welcome to come to the camp and participate! We would be happy if you would get in touch with us beforehand in order to talk about an adequate arrangement.

No space for Racism or Sexism – Not at the Camp nor anywhere else

The camp explicitly takes a stand against Sexism and Racism as well as other forms of domination on the basis of hierarchical social categories, the camp positions itself determinant against sexist and racist acts.

Costs of the Camp

We try to organize the camp as low-cost as possible but are dependent on your solidarity contributions. Please get in touch with us if you want to come but the travel is too expensive for you. We want to make it possible for everybody to come and share travel costs in a collective manner, but can not guarantee anything.

Visa

If you need a Visa to get to the camp an want to be supported in that case, get in touch with us at – camp2013_AT_reclaimthefields.org

Information and contact

More, up to date, information about the program, how to get to the camp, food, camping, etc. can be found at www.reclaimthefield.org/camp/2013

Through the mailadress camp2013_AT_reclaimthefields.org you can reach us with questions about the camp.

For workshops please write to program[at]reclaimthefields.org.

For more information about RtF and Ausgeco2hlt visit: reclaimthefields.org and ausgeco2hlt.de

Register for the camp at: reclaimthefields.org/registration

The more people register the easier it is for us to plan!

Feel free to forward this call to individuals or groups you know and come to the camp!

Resistance is fertile!

Your Camp-Organisation

¹RWE is Germanys second biggest energy supply concern, that keeps on using cole as th main energy and has compared to other european companies a very low share of regenerative energies in the mix of energies. RWE is being critisised of doing greewashing with “climate campaigns” whilst through open cast mining a lot of nature and towns are being destroyed, aswell as lowering the groundwater.

 

 

Posted in Gathering, General, International solidarity, Upcoming events | Leave a comment

Rebel clowns target fracking in Scotland

Reclaim the fields took part in a rebel clown army action in Falkirk yesterday morning.  A hoard of clowns descended on the government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Affairs to deliver a special anti-fracking* message to the powers that be.

Dressed in colourful clown costumes a group of 17 activists mocked the dangers of fracking with ridiculous play. Clowns burst into the car park with music, banners and a fracking tower as bemused workers looked on. Games continued to the to town centre to raise awareness among the public.

A spokesperson for the actions said “we are here today to highlight the absurdity of going down yet another route of non-renewable energy that is a short term and dangerous solution to a long term energy/carbon problem with it’s own set of potentially devastating environmental consequences.

“Despite mounting evidence of the dangers of fracking contaminating local water supplies releasing high carbon methane gas and risk of catastrophic explosions, the government is committed to giving fracking multi-nationals the green light, placing profit over local opposition and the potential for environmental destruction.

“We are here to show those making the decision about DART Energy’s application to frack in the Falkirk and other areas, that opposition to these irresponsible operations is mounting. We are here in support of local opposition to the plans and ongoing international opposition to fracking elsewhere.” (1)

The DPEA was targeted as clown investigations uncovered evidence that the decision on what happens next with the fracking plans in Scotland’s central belt will be taken there by government civil servants(2). This follows DART Energy’s appeal to the Scottish government when Falkirk and Stirling councils failed to make the decision due to resistance from local communities, and a lack of credible information on health and environmental concerns(3).

The action happened amid growing concerns over both the Westminster and Holyrood governments’ current favouring of short sighted, lucrative non-renewable energy plans, despite their alleged commitments to cutting carbon and pursuing renewable energy resources. Last week George Osbourne announced tax breaks for fracking firms operating within the UK (of 50% more than other energy companies(4). This break was championed by Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party Chief Strategist and the man responsible for promoting shale gas fracking in Australia. Crosby’s PR firm “Crosby Textor” also represents the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, of which DART is a subsidiary.

This action was organised by Reclaim the Fields and the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.

rebel clowns Falkirk 1

rebel clowns Falkirk 2

rebel clowns Falkirk 3

NOTES

* The term fracking is used to encompass all unconventional gas extraction.

1.  http://frack-off.org.uk/

2.  http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/cgc/pnas2011.pdf

3.  http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?id=qA355856

4.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/19/david-cameron-fracking-lynton-crosby

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Land concentration and land grabbing are occurring and reaching blatant levels in Europe

Land concentration and land grabbing do not occur only in developing countries in the South; in fact, both are underway in Europe today. A new report by European Coordination Via Campesina and Hands off the Land network shows that land grabbing and access to land are a critical issues today in Europe, and also reveals that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidy scheme and other policies is implicated in a variety of ways.
www.eurovia.org/IMG/pdf/Land_in_Europe.pdf

The report, involving 25 authors from 11 countries and titled Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe, reveals the hidden scandal of how just three per cent of landowners have come to control half of all farmed land. This massive concentration of land ownership and wealth is on a par with Brazil, Colombia and Philippines.

Some of these processes of ever-increasing land concentration are not new; however they have accelerated in recent decades in particular in Eastern Europe. Many feature European companies, as well as new actors including Chinese companies and Middle Eastern Hedge Funds, tied into an increasingly global commodity chains, and all looking to profit from the increasingly speculative commodity of land.

The report features in-depth case studies on strong land concentration trends in Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Austria. It also features various forms of land grabbing in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine. Just like their counterparts in Ethiopia, Cambodia or Paraguay, many of these large-scale land deals are being carried out in a secretive, non-transparent manner.

The report reveals that one of the drivers of this European land grab and land concentration is the subsidies paid under the Common Agricultural Policy, which explicitly favours large land holdings, marginalises small farms, and blocks entry by prospective farmers. In Spain, for example, in 2009, 75 percent of the subsidies were cornered by only 16 percent of the largest producers. Other drivers for land grabs have come from the extractive industry, urban sprawl, real estate interests, tourism enclaves, and other commercial undertakings.

Prof. Dr. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg of Wageningen University, a member of the research team, says: “This is an unprecedented dynamic of land concentration and creeping land grabbing. It has worsened the existing situation where many young people want to stay in or take up farming but cannot maintain or gain access to land. This was already a serious issue before, but has become worse. The current and planned CAP subsidy schemes are likely to solidify the barrier to more democratic access to land and entry to farming by young people. Access to land is a basic condition to achieve food sovereignty in Europe. Indeed, the three most pressing land issues in Europe today are land concentration, land grabbing, and inability of young people to maintain or gain access to land to enter sustainable farming – interlinked, triangular land issues quite similar to the ones we see in Africa, Latin America and Asia today.”

The report however shows that land concentration and land grabbing are not going unopposed, but instead inspiring a massive wave of resistance. Land grabbing and access to land are a central theme of this years celebration of the international day of peasant struggles. The study includes the case of the community of Narbolia, Sardinia mobilising against the use of prime agricultural land for massive solar greenhouse projects, and the case of opposition to the Notre Dames des Landes airport project in Nantes in France.

There are also growing cases of communities occupying land, mirroring actions by many social movements in the global South. The report highlights the case of SOC in Andalusia, where landless peasant farmers are collectively occupying land and cultivating it using agroecological farming techniques, and SoLiLA in Vienna where young people are coming together to “squat” fertile urban land for community supported agriculture and city food gardening thereby preventing it being converted for use by urban commercial projects.

Jeanne Verlinden of the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) says the study shows clearly that: “Land needs to be seen again as a public good. We must reduce the commodification of land and instead promote public management of this common resource on which we all depend. Priority should be given to the use of land for smallholder and peasant agriculture and food production, rather than handing over land to those private property commercial interests who seek land for speculation and ever increasing concentration of wealth. Access to land should be given to those who work it.”

www.eurovia.org/spip.php?article757
www.tni.org/pressrelease/land-rush-europe-comparable-africa-asia-and-latin-america-argues-new-report

 

Posted in Access to land, Food sovereignty, General, International solidarity | Leave a comment

Reclaim the Fields! Spring into Action Gathering! 16th-25th March: FoD

:Reclaim the Fields : Spring into Action Gathering! 16th-25th March:
:Yorkley Court Community Farm:

RTFspring-forest-of-dean-spring-gathering-reclaim-the-fields

Yorkley Court Community Farm is a growing grass-roots farm in the Forest of Dean, interested in developing resilient agro-ecological systems, that are both productive and ecologically regenerative.

The Farm is hosting the Reclaim the Fields ‘Spring into Action’ gathering, on Saturday the 16th of March til Monday the 25th! The Gathering aims to be a platform for sharing practical land-based skills, crafts and related knowledge. We intent to ‘get on with it’ whilst continually seeking to create a popular discourse/ debate on the issues of land access, the right to food autonomy/ sovereignty and the right to build and dwell within a low-impact home on the land.

The Seed Camp will start on the 8th of March, with a two day Permaculture course by Tomas Remiarz. The rest of the week will focus on setting up infrastructure and openly, inclusively organising the Gathering. Anyone interested and able to help get the Gathering off to a great start, should come along for this week, prior to the main Gathering! Lots of skill-sharing and fun will be had!

We are currently looking for people interested in doing talks, running workshops and skill-sharing during the main Gathering… everyone will have the opportunity to share their skills and knowledge at the gathering, but we can publicise the workshops/talks offered before the gathering! So let us know what you’d like to offer or to see, in the way of workshops/skillshares asap!

The weekends of the Gathering will be focused on talks, presentations, workshops and discussions. The week days between will be more focused on practical activities.

Please get hold of us, if you’re planning to come to the Seed Camp, or are wanting to do talk, run a workshop, etc…

:Contact Details:

yorkleycourt@gmail.com

yorkleycourt.wordpress.com < our main, local community facing website!

rtfspring2013.wordpress.com  < the gatherings own website! programme still under-construction!

:A bit about the Forest:

The Forest of Dean is a land betwix two rivers, a secret Wilderness in West Gloucestershire, right on the Welsh boarder.

The Forest of Dean has historically been the home of many radical land-rights struggles and was settled by ‘the cabiners’, people who built their homes “by right” instead of through state dependence. They were treated by the state with the same distain as ‘squatters’ are today, albeit with more direct violence and less PR spin.

As one Oxford prof. put it, after moving here recently, because…
“The Forest and it’s people have a healthy disregard for the rule of law!”

Resistance is Fertile!

Reclaim the Fields!

“Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. ”

Posted in Gathering, General, Upcoming events, WWOLF | 2 Comments

Food Soveriegnty Regional Meeting South West

FoodSovSouthWest

Posted in General, Land & Food News, Upcoming events | Tagged | Leave a comment

Via Campesina Africa Solidarity Statement on the farmworkers mobilization in South Africa

Stop rural slavery! Respect the farmworkers!

(Maputo 14th January 2013) – During the month of November last year, the
world watched farmworkers strikes, particularly those working in
vinyards, in the Western Cape Province, in South Africa. They were
protesting against exploitation and poor working and living conditions
on farms, demanding an increase in minimum wages. In many cases, South
African police responded to the demonstrations with violence and
intolerance and showed no respect for laws. Many farmworkers and
activists were arrested, including peasants of The Agrarian Reform for
Food Sovereignty Campaign, a member of La Via Campesina.

After dubious negotiations that halted the strikes in December, the
South African government has refused to make any change to the minimum
wage and the situation has remained unchanged. Early this January
farmworkers resumed the strikes and are being heavily repressed by police.

Since the strikes began, South African civil society organizations have
denounced the fact that owners of the farms and the police were acting
in close concertation to repress the striking workers; they benefited
from a high level of impunity. It also appears obvious that the owners
of the farms are continuing to pour racist and sexist insults on
farmworkers.

The farmworkers strike in South Africa has to be seen as an African
movement of the rural poor protesting against injustice and explotation.
The agricultural sector in South Africa employs not only South African
citizens. Many of the farmworkers working in bad conditions are migrant
workers: men and women from neighboring countries such as Mozambique,
Zimbabwe and Malawi. These farmworkers are sometimes the most affected
by the owners of the farms, who take advantage ofthe fact that they are
in many cases working illegally and without social protection. South
African commercial farming is the most powerful on the continent; it
flourishes at the expense of the oppression and exploitation of
agricultural workers.

These strikes are also the result of government's failure to implement
land reform in South Africa. The 30 per cent of land distribution that
was promised by 2015 is very far from being implemented. In fact, in
2013 it is now100 years since a Land Act that dispossessed millions of
people from the land and turned them into the super-exploited
farmworkers and the South African proletariat,was constitutedin 1913.
These strikes are acry of”*/Enough is enough/!*” of 100 years of rural
slavery.

The African region of the International Peasant´s Movement, La Via
Campesina, declares their support and solidarity with the farmworkers in
South Africa and condemns all forms of violence perpetuated by the South
African Police and government against all farmworkers and activists. We
join the voice of South African civil society organizations and demand
that the South Africa government take active steps to listen to and act
on the call of the agricultural workers who are demanding a living wage
and a life of dignity.

Globalize the Struggle, globalize the Hope!

Contacts for more information and solidarity:
Petrus Brink, Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign
(+27) 761 534 627 — Mobile
Cape Town, South Africa

Via Campesina Regional office for Africa
(+258) 21 327 895 – Landline
E-mail: vcafrica@gmail.com vcafrica@gmail.com>
Maputo, Mozambique

La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and
medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural
youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and
multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other
type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about
150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Posted in General, International solidarity, Land & Food News | Leave a comment

Save Grow Heathrow! 9am tomorrow at UK’s second-highest court in London

Update: We’ve just found out we’re in the UK’s second-highest Court on Tuesday 15th, so join us at 9am on the Strand, London! Our legal team have confirmed that our case will be heard on Tuesday, not Wednesday.

We’ve lovingly painted giant papier mache strawberres, chillis, cucumbers and tomatoes for our day trip to the Court of Appeal on the Strand in London.

Plus – if you are so wonderful that you come with us outside Court, we’ll have music and a bike-powered smoothie maker. I collected three crates of fresh bananas plus cranberries, clementines and lemons to make smoothies with – all waste food thrown away by wholesalers. If you’re feeling brave, you can even tuck into cherry tomato and cucumber smoothies – again, waste food that would have been driven to landfill by the globalised capitalist food system.

I’m delighted to confirm there’ll be speeches from a Grow Heathrow gardener, a local Sipson resident who’s an anti-third runway activist, and a supporter.

We’re asking supporters to come and join us at 9am for a belated harvest festival outside the Royal Courts of Justice – dress to impress and bring along your own giant colourful papier-mâché fruit and vegetables!

The appeal will take place at the Court of Appeal, Royal Courts of Justice on either Tues 15.

The Royal Courts of Justice are located on the Strand. Click here to see a map.

This inspirational project has…improved this derelict site, lifted the morale of local community in the anti-third runway campaign and in planning a sustainable future.

John McDonnell, MP

I was incredibly impressed by the work and dedication of the squatters here. They’ve transformed a derelict wasteland into a productive and thriving community space … I don’t feel that sorry for the bloke who owns the property.

Richard Madeley, TV personality

See you there!!

Read the rest of this entry » and see more at http://www.transitionheathrow.com/

Posted in General, Mobilisations | Tagged | Leave a comment