RTF gathering in Scotland – some photos and feedback

gathering montage

Dear all,

Thanks for coming along to the gathering. Here are a few photos of the gathering and a quick summary of events. For those of you who didn’t make it read on and we’ll get you next time.

Monimail tower was a great venue, amazing garden with huge vegetables, well worth a visit if you didn’t make it along.  We ate well the whole weekend cooking lots of fresh veggies and apples and plums from the orchard. The gathering was self-organised so everyone chipped in with cooking and washing etc. making it run like a well-oiled machine. Thanks to all! We got plenty of sunshine over the weekend so we crammed in some lounging around and volley ball, then finished off the day with outside films and a fire.

Workshops galore

We had a great line-up of workshops starting with DIY mushroom growing and ending in a discussion on free software.  Others included sustaining resistance, connecting with the elements, the land question, connecting children with nature and rhythms of resistance.  There was a great mix of workshops and it feels like we only just got started on these subjects.  For the full list visit http://rtfgatheringscotland.weebly.com/whats-on.html. Get in touch if you want to know more about any of the workshops that took place and we’ll send your email on to the right person.

If anybody would like to feed back from a workshop then just email the list at your leisure.  recalimthefieldsscotland@lists.noflag.org.uk

The zine stall was a great point for people to distribute their writings and let people know about the RTF network in Europe. The tea urn was also there so it naturally became a hang-out. Check out the RTF bulletins which have all sorts about what’s going on in Europe and summary of EU gatherings at http://www.reclaimthefields.org/content/bulletins. There are plans for the next RTF Scotland zine, get in touch if you would like to get involved in writing, drawing or puting together.

The main discussion was an open, facilitated session to bring out the issues people attending the gathering felt were important for the movement which includes Reclaim the Fields. We split into three groups in the second session to discuss:

Networking (RTF and wider) – what’s there and how to improve our networks
Community – organising, ownership and action
Direct action – land squat possibilities

Notes were taken from these discussions and those who have taken it on will feed them back to the group – so look out for updates.

Reflections

It’s good to reflect on the things that we do. A few of us will be getting our heads together to discuss the ups and downs, and where to go next. Get in touch if you would like to help out with this.

It was great to meet up with you all, and to see some new faces too.  See you at the next RTF Scotland event, watch this space!

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Workshops announced for summer gathering

Help out monimail with practical workshops

Monimail Tower Project is a small environmental organisation that carries out gardening and woodland work as well as maintaining the 16th Century Tower. The project occupies a beautiful 16 acre site in North East Fife comprising of four acres of walled gardens, 12.5 acres of surrounding woodland.  Read more

The Land Question workshop

Scotland today remains semi-medieval with roughly half of the private land owned by just 432 people – the highest concentration of land ownership in the developed world.  The aristocracy – old money who plundered their way to power in story-book times – still rein strong: it is estimated that at least 25% of estates of over 1000 acres have been held by the same family for over 200 years.  And the private sector owns 83% of Scotland’s total land area. Read more

https://rtfgatheringscotland.weebly.com

RTF Summer Gathering

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Free-trade deal threatens UK Food Security

Farmers and growers from the Landworkers’ Alliance will protest in London on the 12th July calling for the free trade negotiations between the EU and the US to be scrapped.

The controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the biggest bilateral trade deal in history but negotiations are taking place behind closed doors. They aim to ‘harmonise’ standards and regulations, which will mean a shift towards the lowest common denominator, with serious repercussions for farmer’s livelihoods and public health.

If the corporations involved get their way we will see the increasing import of inferior produce into the EU which will depress prices for farmers. Furthermore, important health and safety standards are at risk with US negotiators pushing to remove regulations on Genetically Modified foods, increase the quantity of pesticide residues permitted and allow the use of dangerous chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones previously banned in the EU.

“The EU’s pre-negotiation concession to allow imports of American beef decontaminated with lactic acid spray is indicative of what is to come – quality in farming and food processing will be driven down into a race to the bottom with farmers and the public loosing out” said Humphery Lloyd a grower and member of the Landworkers’ Alliance.

“This agreement is shaping up to be a hand out to corporations at the expense of public health and food security. If we degrade our import standards in line with the demands consumers will have more than just chlorine soaked chicken to worry about – this will force farmers out of business and seriously erode UK food sovereignty. We demand that the government stops selling out UK farmers and consumers in these negotiations.”

The LWA is a member of the international peasant farming movement La Via Campesina which represents 200 million small-scale producers around the world. We campaign for the rights of small-scale producers and lobby the UK government and European parliament for policies that support the infrastructure and markets central to our livelihoods.

Interviews and photos 12:30pm, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria Street, SW1H 0ET, London

e: LWApress@riseup.net
w: landworkersalliance.org.uk

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Latest News from Yorkley Court defending land against illegal eviction

There has been a 48 hour stand off between private security contractors and residents & supporters of Yorkley Court Community Farm.

Legal updates
The legal injunction against the security firm could not go through this morning because there was not a judge with sufficient qualification/power/experience to make a decision
It is likely the injunction will go through just after 10am tomorrow

Policing & Security
There was a larger police presence today
Roadblocks on both ends of the road managed by the police to reduce traffic passing the side
New shift of cops at 8pm & shift change 8am

The site is well defended with barricades & other tools. There are growing numbers of people but more are needed.

What you can do in solidarity

Get to the site if you can!

Bring food/snacks/water

Donate:  http://www.gofundme.com/aonxpo

Background:

In the early hours of Monday morning, police and private security thugs decended, without prior Notice (a legal requirement), upon the peaceful peasants living on the land, and growing food at Yorkley Court. This outragous, competely unlawful act of aggression came without warning, whilst Yorkley Court Farm are fully engaged with the District Council in their planning process, and were looking likely to be granted the initial stages of planning permission during the coming weeks. We’re not sure what exactly the Council, no doubt in colusion with certain private business interests think they’re doing, more information as we get it. Please come and help us stop this illegal eviction attempt

http://yorkleycourt.wordpress.com/

How to get there: Head to Yorkley, near Lydney in Gloucestershire.

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URGENT support needed at Yorkley Court Farm

**Support needed now – Please get the the site**

Bailiffs attempted an illegal eviction at Yorkley Court Community Farm this morning & are still there and its likely they will try something on the bottom strip tonight.


More people are urgently needed to defend the land.

Even if you can just get there for a few hours, it helps to have as many people as possible on site.

Background:

In the early hours of this morning, police and private security thugs decended, without prior Notice (a legal requirement), upon the peaceful peasants living on the land, and growing food at Yorkley Court. This outragous, competely unlawful act of aggression came without warning, whilst Yorkley Court Farm are fully engaged with the District Council in their planning process, and were looking likely to be granted the initial stages of planning permission during the coming weeks. We’re not sure what exactly the Council, no doubt in colusion with certain private business interests think they’re doing, more information as we get it. Please come and help us stop this illegal eviction attempt

 http://yorkleycourt.wordpress.com/

How to get there: Head to Yorkley, near Lydney in Gloucestershire. See a map below.

Site mobile: 07784887895

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Who Owns Britain? Bristol Teach-In with Kevin Cahill

On Saturday 12th July 2014 The Land Is Ours in conjunction with Bristol Housing Action Movement presents………

Former Sunday Times ‘Rich List’ journalist Kevin Cahill is the author of ‘Who Owns Britain’. Beginning at 1pm he will discuss & explain the inequalities of land ownership in the British Isles and former empire. After a break at 2pm Kevin will answer your questions. Venue opens for refreshments at 12 noon… social until 5-6pm.

VENUE: Trinity Community Arts, Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol  BS2 0NW

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Soil Summer School

Soil Summer School

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RTF UK gathering at Monimail, Fife 22-25th August

RTF scottish gathering August 2014

We are excited to bring you the first UK Reclaim the Fields gathering to take place in Scotland!  It will happen at Monimail, near Cupar in Fife.  This is a chance to get together around issues of the land such as access to land, growing vegetables, living on the land and ecological action.  Including…. camp fires, food from the garden, practical and theory workshops, camping, films and lots of great people.

There will be an open space for worshops and discussions so get in touch if you would like to run one. Also give us a shout if you are up for helping out in organising the weekend or helping on the day.  Email reclaimthefieldsscotland@gmail.com.

Watch this space for more information coming soon on the space and workshops.  Pass on to those who may be interested.

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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

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Small-scale producers are feeding the future

Small farmers' demo outside DEFRA offices

Yesterday (April 17th) 100 farmers and growers from the Landworkers’ Alliance travelled to London from around the country to protest outside the head offices of DEFRA and the National Farmers Union.

Under the leadership of Owen Patterson over the past two years DEFRA has strengthened its support of large-scale industrial agriculture and marginalized smaller producers, while the NFU has consistently lobbied for the interests of agribusiness and ignored the views of smaller farmers.

The land workers’ Alliance want to see small-scale producers put at the heart of decision making in agricultural policy.

“DEFRA needs to recognise the role of small-scale producers in contributing to the national food economy, as well as the environmental and social services provided by these producers,” says Ed Hamer from the LWA.  “As a matter of urgency we demand that DEFRA create policies conducive to a sustainable food future for all.”

The demonstration took place in solidarity with the April 17th – The International Day of Peasant Struggles. A global day of action called by La Via Campesina, the international union of peasant farmers which has over 200 million members worldwide.

Small farmers' demo outside DEFRA offices

(Above) The Landworkers’ Alliance catch Owen Patterson in bed with agribusiness.

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