This project wants to recover the ciliary forest (water-bordering vegetation) of the Igarape Simauma, in the Quilombola territory St. Rosa dos Pretos, through the planting of native trees. Its other aim is to collectively develop an agroforestry system in close dialogue with subsistence farming practitioners of the Quilombo.
As a result of the arrival of a mining company and the reduction of region’s productive areas, its identified serious problems, such as deforestation, silting in rivers and streams, and lack of water. It was from this diagnosis and discussion within the community that its created the collective Quilombola Agroforestry Agents on June 5th 2017, formed by 20 young quilombolas.
ABN was established in the late 1990s, through the ‘African Group’ of policy-influencers, registering as a Trust in Kenya in 2010. It now has 36 active partners in 12 countries across Africa, and has incubated a number of important regional initiatives, including the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA).
It grew out of a commitment to nurture a new leadership in Africa, dedicated to enhancing biological and cultural diversity, and social and ecological justice. It uses exchange programs, training and knowledge-sharing to strengthen rights, policy and legislation.
A particular focus is the empowering of indigenous and local communities across Africa to revive their bio-cultural diversity & protect their sacred natural sites & territories (SNS&T).
Organisation founded: 2002
Africa – particularly East, West and Southern.
ABN supports Africans in voicing their views on issues such as food and seed sovereignty, genetic engineering, agrofuels, biodiversity protection, extractive industries and the rights of small-holder farmers.
ABN’s focus is on indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture and biodiversity related rights, policy and legislation. ABN pioneers culturally-centred approaches to social and ecological problems in Africa through sharing experiences, co-developing methodologies and creating a united African voice on these issues.
Established in 1996 by policy influencers from the African Group, one of five Regional Groups of the UN, ABN’s status was formalised in 2002.
ABN focuses on Indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture and biodiversity related rights, policy and legislation, and has been responsible for numerous regional initiatives, including helping to launch of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) in 2011, which it played a key role in conceiving and developing.
In 2010 ABN became a Trust, and today supports 36 partners in 12 African countries.
ABN’s Mission is to ignite and nurture a growing African network of individuals and organisations working passionately from global to local level, with capacity to resist harmful developments and to influence and implement policies and practices that promote recognition and respect for people and nature.
ABN Vision: We envisage vibrant and resilient African communities rooted in their own biological, cultural and spiritual diversity, governing their own lives and livelihoods, in harmony with healthy ecosystems.
ABN Core Values:
1. Diversity and mutual respect for ethnic, cultural, spiritual and biological well-being for present and future generations.
2. Transparency and accountability as underlying principles of how we work so as to enable equal, inclusive and full participation.
3. Solidarity with those working for justice for people and nature.
4. Commitment, courage and tenacity to promote ABN core values and to defend and implement its principles.
5. Transformation of individuals and organisations as catalysts of change.
ABN’s education lessons include the importance of combining practical training on agroecology and youth engagement with high level work to protect and value indigenous peoples’ rights to sacred sites and territories through UN international and national human rights systems and legal structures.
ABN has learnt many lessons about being a pioneering ‘Network’ of civil society organisations spread across many countries. Here is a summary of some of those lessons:
Peter Kamanda is an outgoing farmer with hands-on skills in farming practices, who has benefitted from agro-ecology training by MEAP, an ABN partner in Kenya, and now practises agro-ecological methods on his farm.
After the training, Peter started combining conventional crops such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cassava, and sorghum, with indigenous vegetables such as pig weed, black night shade, kale and nderema (Africa spinach) – a system that is serving him well.
He also practises agro-forestry to incorporate tree and crop growing, and to benefit from the synergies between trees and crops like pest control, nutrient cycling, soil fertility management, moisture management and wind control among others, as well as incorporating crops that are less common locally like coffee, pineapples and fruits that give him high yields.
These practices enhance productivity on Peter’s farm even during dry spells, when the farm is green and continues to produce. Other farmers learn from his innovation. With his outgoing character and innovation, MEAP identified him as a contact farmer, so that MEAP training is held on his farm for farmers to get hands-on experience of his methods.
ABN uses innovative ways to solve the challenges facing Africa through sharing experiences, co-developing methodologies and creating a united African voice.
At a policy level, ABN has used international legal instruments like the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), International Labour Organisation 169, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to establish clear recognition of the critical role and value of the Indigenous and Local Knowledge System for informing policy formulation on biodiversity issues, as this knowledge system has evolved over millennia through interacting very closely with Nature.
ABN works to create a united African voice on the continent on bio-cultural diversity issues, and also nurtures alliances with like-minded others by linking the local to global.
At ground level, ABN has pioneered African-centred methodologies for working with communities for the sustainable management of biodiversity and protection of community rights. It uses culturally-centred approaches to Africa’s social and environmental problems through sharing experiences, using diverse methodologies such as community dialogues, nature experiential learning, intergenerational learning and community exchange learning visits.
ABN thus has created a new, very African, approach to sustainability and community resilience, closely linked to traditional practices. The premise is that only by restoring people’s strong and deep sense of connectedness to Nature and all that lies within it will people in Africa find ways to be resilient and to sustain their land and other natural resources.
ABN’s methodologies have been rolled out through its work with its partners. For example, Maendeleo Endelevu Action Program (MEAP) is an ABN Partner in Kenya, which subscribes to the ABN philosophy and principles. MEAP has benefitted from various ABN training and capacity building initiatives.
It applies ABN methods in its work relating to three ABN thematic areas, including Community Ecological Governance (CEG) through promotion of Participatory Forest Management (PFM), which ensures communities living adjacent to government listed forests are involved in co-management of forests.
The process creates opportunity for communities to exercise Community Ecological Governance, revive their Ecological Knowledge Systems and apply those knowledge systems within Participatory Forest Management Plans (PFMP).
ABN’s work focuses on four thematic areas, which it promotes through initiatives with its partners. ABN also works to ensure that four cross-cutting issues are systematically addressed in all its areas of work: Gender; Youth; Networking; and Governance.
1. Community Ecological Governance & Sacred Territories
Since 2009, ABN has supported five partners to consolidate, integrate and further evolve innovative strategies of working with communities on Sacred Natural Sites & Territories and supporting governance systems, with its core methods including:
These promote dialogue, analysis and negotiation to identify, agree and implement solutions that increase local ecosystems control and protection, and community rights and responsibilities.
Elders within the community play a vital role in upholding the ecological knowledge and customs practiced over generations which maintain the well-being of Sacred Natural Sites, ecosystems, territories and local communities.
These customary governance systems recognise Sacred Natural Sites and Territories as places where the laws of Earth can be read, and from which customs, spiritual practices and governance systems are derived to protect the territory as a whole. Sacred Natural Sites and Territories are at the heart of ecological, spiritual and cultural practices, and governance systems of indigenous and local communities.
Across Africa they are threatened by destruction from economic and other developments that erode the customary governance systems of their custodial communities, while custodians of sacred sites and elders who hold vital indigenous knowledge are also disappearing.
2. Community Seeds & Knowledge
The huge push from governments and corporations to use hybrid and genetically-modified seeds which require costly inputs like fertilizers is a common pressure faced by the ABN and the rural communities with whom the partner organisations work. This “Green Revolution” approach is
a) unaffordable to many African farmers who struggle to cope with more extreme drought and flood impacts from climate change,
b) harms biodiversity and
c) concentrates the control of agriculture in corporate hands.
Community Seed and Knowledge is an innovative ABN programme that builds climate resilience through reviving traditional seed diversity and promoting agroecology and local food sovereignty as the most effective and ethical way to feed the growing population and cope with climate change.
It focuses on the central role of indigenous, locally-adapted seed and traditional knowledge, especially women’s knowledge.
3. Youth Culture & Biodiversity
ABN’s work on Youth, Culture and Biodiversity aims to restore confidence in indigenous ecological knowledge and practices by deepening peoples’ sense of belonging with one another and the earth.
This is achieved by bridging the knowledge gap between elders and youth on indigenous ecological knowledge, and by lobbying for inclusion of this knowledge in school curricula.
For example, Ethiopian and South African government offices are consulting ABN partners to advise on how to integrate traditional ecological knowledge into the school system.
Youth are actively involved in healing ecosystems and in campaigning when degradation happens due to various forces. In Ethiopia, youth who came out of this process are demonstrating leadership in critical positions in various government institutions and universities, because their confidence and their relationship with the earth was strengthened.
In Kenya, MEAP engages youth in agricultural activities and experiential learning in a forest setting, applying ABN methods within the Youth Culture and Biodiversity theme. The activity facilitates inter-generational knowledge transfer for ecological governance and ecological agriculture by enhancing the relevant skills and practices among the youth.
4. Strengthening Networking, Communication and Regional Advocacy
For this theme, ABN works through its 36 partners covering western, eastern and southern Africa, as well as strategic and international partners.
ABN works to build the capacity of whole partner organisations in the approach and methodologies of ABN, which focus particularly on the following eight methods:
ABN are strengthening their emphasis on:
1. Capacity building to embed the ABN approach and methodologies deeply into the Partner organisations and into the communities they work with. The aim is to support the emergence of ‘learning centres of Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK)’ for the ABN approach and methodologies.
2. ABN as a coalition of Partners.
3. ABN’s cross-cutting issues of Networking, Gender, Youth and Governance.
4. Beginning to spread ABN’s approach and methodologies beyond ABN Partners by establishing carefully planned and managed strategic partnerships, and by producing published and accessible guidelines and case studies on ABN’s approach and methodologies.
5. Working closely with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), feeding issues and stories from the work of Partners on the ground into AFSA’s continental voice.
6. Establishing ABN country nodes.
In January 2019 ABN was recognised as one of just 15 organisations to receive an Outstanding Practice in Agroecology award from the World Futures Council, out of 77 nominations from 44 countries.
Although not directly involved currently in permaculture education, ABN fully embodies the ethics of Earth Care-People Care-Fair Share, at all levels.
Permaculture principles in action in ABN’s work include:
Design from pattern to detail
Small and slow solutions
Building on each step and on small successes, both locally, regionally and across Africa.
Integrate rather than segregate
ABN works together with other civil society organisations and networks, creating strength to achieve their mutual goals, for example through AFSA.
Make a small change for the largest effects
Whilst the Resolution 372 is ‘no small feat’, as a single change, secured from within a global human rights system, it can bring huge benefits.
Working With Nature
Valuing and protecting sacred sites and indigenous knowledge that allow individuals and communities to learn direct from nature.
ABN is a fantastic example to be inspired by and to learn from, to emulate in your own projects and movements.
Using established systems of international law and human rights to protect indigenous knowledge and sacred sites, and empower community rights from local to national levels; and providing practical training that enables people and communities them to meet their needs more effectively.
What experience from ABN could help your project, community or network
a) Link high level working on protecting human rights through international and national law more directly to practical training in agroecology methods, community
resilience and capacity building.
b) Be willing to take on a big vision, big opposition and big challenges like ABN, whether across a continent, nationally, regionally or locally.
c) Identify a set of effective and culturally appropriate methodologies, then building capacity to use these through the network to generate local individual and community benefit.
ABN is using the £25,000 in funding from the 2018 Established Projects Award to support its work netowrking, campaigning and lobbying to influence policy, regulation and public opinion.
Sacred places have great ecological, socio-cultural and spiritual importance to the communities that live adjacent to them. Winning the Lush Spring Prize funding really means a lot. It means that the work we are doing with communities in Africa to protect these areas to regenerate our biodiversity and ecosystems, really matters globally.
The funding will go a long way to support work on the ground, and lobby for appropriate policy in countries party to the African Union. We would like to really build understanding amongst our partners and lead them in getting their governments to integrate this resolution into the laws of their country, building capacity of custodians, and raising the profile of sacred sites.
The publicity the award comes with will also help in profiling our work at an international level.
Simon Ndonco Mitambo, ABN’s
Regional Programmes Coordinator.
ABN became a Trust in 2010. It has a 5-member ABN Board, and an ABN Secretariat of 5. ABN operates as a coalition of its 36 members, working across 12 countries, with active membership emphasised to ensure ABN’s activity is representative.
ABN receives funding from a variety of sources, for its core activities and partnership projects focused on specific outcomes such as research and publications. The £25,000 Lush Spring Prize Established Project Award was received in 2018.
ABN Needs: to make donations to support ABN’s work contact email@example.com
ABN Offers: ABN publications cover a range of themes including: Seeds; Mining / Extractive Industries; The Network; Agroecology; Culture; GMOs; ABN Principles; Pastoralism; Diversity; Sacred Natural Sites; Biofuels; and Climate Change.
Established in February 2017, AGROECOPOLIS is the first Greek grassroots NGO to focus on food sovereignty, access to land and agroecology, and is the product of many years of collaboration.
It’s work involves: supporting networking and skill-sharing amongst agroecological practitioners; participating in research projects with CAWR, FIAN, TNI; helping establish practical land-based projects in Greece.
For example, it has supported a solidarity exports initiative whereby citrus fruits and olive oil are exported to food initiatives in the EU; supporting small agroecological Greek farmers.
AGROECOPOLIS is currently in the process of setting up a Greek Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Association, and hopes to create an agroecology training centre and revive the Permaculture Caravan.
Project started: 2017
AgroEcoPolis is the focal point for the Agroecology, Food Sovereignty and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movements in Greece, for the Mediterranean Network for Local Solidarity Partnerships for Agroecology (MedNet LSPA), and is an affiliated partner of the European Access To Land network (EA2L).
The AgroEcoPolis Vision: A society characterized by mutual help, solidarity, (agro)ecological values and social integration, in which people have the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food and are able to define their own food and agriculture systems.
The AgroEcoPolis Mission: Strengthening of small scale farmers and consumers to develop and try out collectivistic nutrition strategies to bring food production back into the hands of the people and to get organised and work towards social justice and a better life in a meaningful and joyous manner.
AgroEcoPolis Values: cooperation, solidarity, agroecology and humanity.
AgroEcoPolis is the product of collaboration with between formal and informal groups, collectives and individuals over the past decade or so, working across the areas of Food Sovereignty, Access to Land and agroecology. AgroEcoPolis was formally established in February 2017 and is the first Greek grassroots NGO focussing on these areas.
One main task in the beginning was therefore mainly networking and spreading information. Since before its inception, AgroEcoPolis has been promoting CSAs, organizing workshops on sustainability topics, PGS, small scale farming and the connection between farmers and consumers.
We cannot give high salaries, and what we do needs a level of social commitment to our goals. We work with many people remotely, which requires familiarity with decentralised tools and a work ethic that is responsible and proactive.” Volunteer working is extremely valuable, but requires realistic expectations about what can be achieved. “At times a high employee turnover has set us back in many ways, however we have pulled through and now are at a better stage, with employees that are here to stay and ready to face whatever comes our way.
When we created Agroecopolis I was quite elated! Almost three years down the line, I can say we have accomplished much more than I could have dreamt of when we were starting. Nothing comes easy of course, and the ferryman always demands his payment.
This period has been very taxing for me personally… Would I do it all over again? I have to say YES! Would I perhaps do things differently? Probably! Do we still need to keep going? For sure! Agroecopolis is the voice that needs to be heard… so, unless you want to join us and add your voice to ours, grab some ear plugs and stay tuned!
AroEcoPolis demonstrates the significant value of:
Alexandra Tsianti is a biodynamic grower in central Greece. She is a third generation (female) family farmer and runs the first DEMETER certified Greek farm: “The Trinity Farm”. She grows cereals, vegetables and animal feed in an area of 40ha, just outside of Farsala – near one of Greece’s main ‘chemical agriculture seas’ in the Larissa basin. She also has a small herd of about 100 sheep.
I was very lucky to be invited by AgroEcoPolis to participate in a farmer to farmer training on CSA in Italy in January 2018. It was very interesting and useful experience… The important thing was that I was able to meet with farmers practising CSA already, and others who are making their initial steps.
Interacting with people in various stages of CSA development was very beneficial as is the fact that, with the help of AgroEcoPolis, I am able to contact farmers in other parts of the country and in Europe to exchange knowledge and experiences. I wish more such activities would be available for farmers… The work AgroEcoPolis is doing is vital for a country like ours… to help us set up structures like CSA and PGS for our collective well being as a society.
At the frontlines of the Greek agro-eco-social movement: By focusing on alternative ways to produce, distribute, procure and consume food AgroEcoPolis shows that solidarity is a two-way street. It supports both rural (Agro) and urban (Polis) and creates sustainable communities based on the ideas of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) and resilience (Eco).
AgroEcoPolis has organized workshops, trainings & skill-sharing to support producers & consumers on local-national level to create CSA and PGS initiatives.
November 2018: hosting and organising the 7th International Symposium, the 4th European CSA Meeting and the 2nd Meeting of the Mediterranean Network for LSPA together with URGENCI in Thessaloniki.
November 2018 in Brussels: formal presentation of the report ‘Democracy Not For Sale: The Struggle For Food Sovereignty In the Age of Austerity In Greece’ in collaboration with TNI (Transnational Institute) and FIAN (food and nutrition rights organisation) on the effects of austerity and the crisis to the Human Right to Food of the Greek people.
This led to an international legal team being formed with the aid of Amnesty International, CADTM, Olivier De Schutter and others to pursue the violation of these rights by the institutions involved.
Creating and adapting educational material in Greek (videos, webinars, moocs, booklets, trainers guides, etc) on CSA and PGS has helped seed systemic change.
Created a new social space ‘To PerivOLOI mas’ (‘an orchard for all’), involving the association “Ethos” working on young refugee housing, and the group “Pervolarides” working on refugee induction and food waste management (another LUSH donation beneficiary, aided by AgroEcoPolis), where activities like composting, and workshops on urban permaculture gardening, food processing and agroecology will be realized, to help transcultural and generational exchange.
In September 2018 we started an Erasmus+ (EU funded) project with some of our partners from the European Access To Land network, enabling us to commission a legal and historical survey of Greece as one of the outcomes of the project.
This first survey of its kind, has the aim of being used to identify precedents that can help our advocacy work. Though this project we aim to create a national core group that will set the strategy for the issue of protecting and safeguarding farmland from grabbing, GMOs etc.
A training of CSA trainers / catalysts organised for the summer of 2019.
[h5]7th International Community Supported Agriculture Symposium, Thessalonika, November 2018.[/h5]
As the focal point for Food Sovereignty in Greece, we aim to be the hub for the movement’s growth. We actively network and support anyone working in relevant sectors around the country, and are active at local, regional, national and international levels.
AgroEcoPolis uses effective models of participation in decentralised workgroups, that are largely autonomous.
For everything AgroEcoPolis is doing, it consults with relevant stakeholders from informal groups, cooperatives, activists and campaigners to universities and local authorities, and continues to expand the base. Research, networking and dissemination of knowledge is realized through workshops and skill-sharing by using offline and online tools.
AgroEcoPolis has coordinators rather than managers – this has a lot to do with the voluntary work that takes place. It offers a platform and acts as a hub for interaction and exchange. As part of a movement it is always open and relies on constant feedback.
AgroEcoPolis dissemination, education and training activities also reach out to rural areas, marginalised people like refugees, youth and people on low incomes. The main issues are inclusion and access to knowledge, community building and an alternative model of living.
The research results help to understand the context and provide better solutions/tools, and also strengthen our advocacy work. The connectivity and networking with other countries, areas and regions as well as the open source sharing policy, tools and skills that are available across different regions, help self-sufficient communities withstand the onslaught of tax-raids, fast-track privatisation of commons and the dismantling of social state.
Strategy: If you are in a boat, you won’t go far if you’re only paddling the oars on one side – similarly, achieving Food Sovereignty means work on different levels at the same time.
So, on the one hand, AgroEcoPolis works to educate consumers on matters relating to ethical consumption and how food relates to climate crisis issues; and trains farmers on agroecological techniques as well as the politics of food – aiming at making them entirely independent from the big players (like pharma companies, intermediaries and the agrifood industry in general).
On the other, AgroEcoPolis creates directly connects producers and consumers through forms of agriculture where the members and farmers share the risk of farming, in order to build new forms of cooperation, economy and solidarity. CSA is creating strong resilient communities while at the same time securing farmers’ income and making rural communities sustainable.
Using innovative, interactive methods has been essentiaal – organising AgroEcoPolis’ first webinar has been a very different approach, taking advnatage of a useful and convenient tool.
AgroEcoPolis has run (in 2014) and will revive the perma-caravan: a strategy with a methodology and tools to disseminate knowledge, whilst also collecting knowledge and information from:
a) agroecological farmers around the Med basin, and
b) older generation farmers and peasants who are the living link with our agroecological past, when people worked together with nature and knew how to treat diseases in plants, animals and humans.
Introducing tools like Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) and working in order to secure farmland from land- and debt-grabbing, together with advocacy and research work, we aim to fulfil our vision and mission to achieve Food Sovereignty in our country and our region. PGS are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders.
They are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchangeand offer an alternative to third party certification, hat is adapted to local markets and short supply chains. They can complement third party certification with a private label that brings additional guarantees and transparency.
Delivering our first training for CSA Catalysts with people from all over the country is helping create a network of activists who are working in their local environments.
As a final step we envisage the creation of Food Policy Councils, so that we the citizens play an effective and direct role in policy making, thus truly enabling the systemic change we dream of!
AgroEcoPolis embodies the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share from local and national to transnational levels. While not currently involved in permaculture education, we ran two PDCs in 2014 and 2015 (before our formal start), and the Permaculture Caravan in 2014, which will be revived.
We plan to start free urban permaculture courses in our social space ‘To PerivOLOI mas’; and to collaborate more with the PermaSchool Greece. ALL perma-principles play a part in what we do and how we do it. With limited resources it means we are extra careful about their allocation and the yields to be created. To build resilient systems we need all of these to be in place.
Small change for big effects: being a hub for information and activity means single actions or training events can create many benefits for many people.
Principles in Action: Design from Pattern to Detail; Creatively use & Respond to Change; Use Small Slow Solutions; Use & value diversity; ‘The edge is where it’s at’; Observe & interact; Catch & store energy (mostly people’s energy in our case); Obtain yields (ie. farmers trained, initiatives created); Integrate; Self regulate; Use and value renewable resources (reduce dependencies).
As its country’s first agroecology, food sovereignty and community supported agriculture NGO, AgroEcoPolis provides lots of inspiration on how to build a national movement, as part of an international movement, in challenging political and economic conditions.
They provide examples of how to steadily build connections through training, events and networking, which have multiplied and grown the diversity of beneficial impacts they produce.
Experience from AgroEcoPolis that could help your project, community or network:
a) Helping to grow a national movement through practical training and skillsharing in areas such as agroecology and CSA methods?
b) By researching historical and legal land issues to help inform campaigning and activity linked to access to land issues and related advocacy work?
c) Using training in agroecological cultivation, food preparation and preservation techniques to help assimilate marginalised social groups, migrants and displaced people?
d) Creating and developing your own Perma-Caravan to disseminate information and gather valuable dying knowledge from farming elders?
2018 was an awesome year for AgroEcoPolis! We achieved so much and feel so grateful and honoured by the trust placed in us from URGENCI to organise the 3-in-1 ‘CSA Beyond Borders’ meeting; from LUSH in receiving the 2018 Young Project Award; and from TNI (Transnational Institute) and FIAN for the production of our report on the Human Right to Food in Greece.
Collectively all these have brought us in the spotlight and it is difficult to separate the effects of one against the rest.
Having said that, whenever we mention that we have received the Spring Prize award, we are welcomed more positively, with bigger smiles and a notion that we can be trusted at face value – particularly at the international level.
We are taking part in project proposals with some serious European organisations presently, and the award has definitely helped our credibility and trustworthiness!
We would also like to do more things with the one and only LUSH shop in Greece that happens to be in our city. It is a pity we did not do anything with them in 2018, but hope something can be organised for the future.
AgroEcoPolis is a Non Profit NGO, established formally in February 2017.
It has 6 part-time employees, teams of volunteers, and follows a consensus based decision-making process, with Board members present at weekly staff meetings. We have a constant feedback loop with the movements, collectives, assemblies, networks etc that we participate in.
Funding comes mainly from European Erasmus+ and one AMIF project.
We received the Lush Spring Prize in 2018 (Young Project Award, £20,000) and a small grant from the uerrilla Foundation. AgroEcoPolis is a member of FundAction – a funding experiment that is run participatively by a community of activists.
We need core funding to help us achieve our goals, without the restraints of project-related funding. Until now donations have played very small role in our finances.
Local to Regional: producers & consumers who are interested in building CSAs; exchange between regional groups and initiatives; creating PGS scheme; National to International: research; networking and skill-sharing with transnational networks; advocacy for CSA, CAP, Agroecology, biodiversity; trainings.
Universally: agroecological / permaculture trainings; research; advocacy.
Al Balqa’s journey began in 2014 in Jordan, with a tree for every child campaign, alongside working with the farmers’ market movement to sell small-scale farmers’ products, particularly those of women to offer financial independence.
Since then, the project has:
The project is entirely led and managed by women, demonstrating female-led innovation and shifting the picture of rural Muslim women in the community.
The project has seen many farmers, youth and women becoming part of a green economy that depends on restoring biodiversity, water harvesting, agricultural tourism and adventure tourism, and continues to renew the resources of nature.
Alianza Biodiversidad (Biodiversity Alliance) is a collective platform that brings together ten key organisations and movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.
It was born from the convergence of two communications projects: the magazine Biodiversidad, Sustento y Culturas (Biodiversity, Sustenance and Cultures) and the website Biodiversidad en América Latina y el Caribe (Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean), started by Acción por la Biodiversidad.
In the past 24 years, the magazine and website have become key points of reference in defence of rural smallholder food production systems, putting the central focus on the factors most important to their recovery: the defence of the lands, biodiversity and seeds of indigenous and rural people. They also promote agro-ecological farming practices and food sovereignty.
For Alianza Biodiversidad, this task is fundamental to the regeneration of the global ecosystem, as it is the basis for the future possibility of producing food without destroying ecosystems and at the same time is the key to the feeding of humanity.
Alianza Ceibo (Ceibo Alliance) is comprised of members from four indigenous nations in the western Amazon that are together building a holistic movement to prevent the destruction of their cultures and rainforest territories.
The Alliance was created in 2014 in response to oil fields polluting local water sources. In the process of building rainwater catchment systems (to store water for irrigation and other uses), they learned of common threats facing them all.
Believing that they are stronger together, Alianza Ceibo started a movement to:
Established in 2002, AUB-NCC is a platform for faculty and students across disciplines to engage in human ecology and public participatory approaches towards regenerative socio-environmental change.
Its projects are transdisciplinary in nature, apply innovative digital tools that support collective action and build deep relations among collaborating communities.
AUB-NCC is reviving traditional medicinal plant based knowledge, publishing citizen-friendly guides for diverse entities to enter the circular economy, collaborating with over 100 communities to produce a digital platform for collective eco-cultural protection and rural economic support, supporting eco-entrepreneurs, establishing an Integrative Health MSc and bringing regenerative principles to the Ecosystem Management MSc at AUB.’
Amrita Bhoomi is a peasant agroecology training centre. It was launched in 2013 by Indian farmers to find solutions to the agrarian and ecological crises in India.
Today, most farm soil and food are contaminated, ground water tables are low, and biodiversity is lost, due to oil dependent, chemical, and monoculture farming. On the social front, there is a wave of farmer’s suicides because of indebtedness due to expensive inputs.
Amrita Bhoomi is working to reverse these trends by carrying out trainings for farmers on Zero Budget Natural Farming – a local agroecological method that needs no external inputs, very low water, and relies on natures processes. It has a special focus on youth, and also carry out seed conservation and distribution and climate adaptation.
Project started: 2013
Karnataka State, SW India
Amrita Bhoomi is a centre for training peasant farmers in agroecology and zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) and an established pioneer in the movement for seed sovereignty and food sovereignty, based on agroecological self-reliant farming and rural enterprises. Amrita Bhoomi is La Via Campesina’s agroecology school in South Asia.
Amrita Bhoomi’s mission is to create models of rural autonomy and self-respect.
The centre promotes the principles of Swaraj based on food sovereignty, agroecological self-reliant farming, seed sovereignty, and rural enterprises. It envisions a form of development that is socially just, respects Mother Earth, and creates dignity and equality for all.
‘Swaraj’ generally means self-governance or “self-rule” – it lays stress on governance, not by a hierarchical government, but by self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralisation, so Swaraj was strongly promoted by Gandhi.
Amrita Bhoomi was conceived during the ‘seed satyagraha’, the Karnataka farmers’ movement’s (KRRS) fight for seed sovereignty against multinational seed companies’ attempts to impose patents on life.
The KRRS dream was not to just keep protesting against things but to create the world it wanted to see. Professor Nanjundaswamy (1936–2004), the leader of KRRS was described as “India’s leading advocate of farmers’ rights”.
To put this vision into practice, he launched the vision of a farmers training center in 2002, named Amrita Bhoomi, the eternal earth – a space for peasants to build models of autonomy, where they can explore how to restructure food production based on appropriate technologies and local exchange networks.
As a Public Charitable Trust, Amrita Bhoomi was first established with the support of the Italian farmers organization, Associazione SUM.
Narendra was a young graphic designer, from a small peasant family but forced to shift to an urban job in the city, with no farming skills. Fascinated by agriculture, he went to Amrita Bhoomi as a volunteer intern for a year and learned how to work the land.
Today, he has restored his one acre farm on the outskirts of Bangalore. Previously used as a dumping yard, with glass shards and syringes still dotting the field, Narendra is now using waste water from buildings around his farm to grow flowers. He’s now also head gardener at an apartment complex, where he grows affordable organic veggies to sell to the residents.
His father thought he was crazy initially – he’s now inspired by his son, and takes care of his field. Narendra sees himself as a lifetime volunteer and supporter of Amrita Bhoomi and is thrilled he could start a new life on the land.
Vasantha Kumri R (31) is head of the seed program at Amrita Bhoomi. She hails from a village farmer’s family and has stayed put, dedicating her life to education and training for rural communities and youth, strengthening their self reliance via organic farming.
Seeds are the soul of farming,” says Vasantha, “unless we control our own seeds we can never be secure about our food security or our incomes. Farmers should … become self-reliant and independent from expensive corporate inputs. Young people specially should focus on organic farming – unlike chemical farming, which is a road to debt and loans, organic farming is creative …this is the only way to make agriculture attractive for the youth and healthy and chemical free for all consumers, protecting nature and humanity.
At age 20, Vasantha first learned to work with farmers groups at the community level, as a field worker carrying out training and education work to deal with multiple problems like food insecurity and farmer suicides, and helping set up a community level seed bank.
Amrita Bhoomi demonstrates the significant value of:
At the frontlines of the agroecology movement: Amrita Bhoomi has been promoting ZBNF as one of its key agroecological models. Its training programmes and a variety of model plots created on its campus have made it one of the key spaces for the promotion of ZBNF among its peasant members.
Promoting Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF): KRRS was instrumental in up-scaling the Zero Budget Natural farming (ZBNF) movement in the state of Karnataka.
One of the most successful agroecology movements globally, ZBNF’s leaders claim that millions practice ZBNF at the national level in India, while it is estimated at some 100,000 for Karnataka. Around 60 massive state-level ZBNF training camps have been organised in the last decade, with an average of 1000-6000 farmer participants over 5-7 days including women, men and youth.
Districts self-organize locally to promote ZBNF at the grassroots level, without any formal movement organization, paid staff or even a bank account, as it generates a spirit of volunteerism and enthusiasm among its peasant farmer members.
‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit or any net spending on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals. ZBNF advocates see it as a solution to the agrarian crisis and rising trend of farmer suicides in India.
A grassroots approach to seed sovereignty: As part of its “seed satyagraha” (seed sovereignty) struggle that began in the 1992, KRRS and Amrita Bhoomi have been at the frontlines of the movement for local peasant saved seeds and against corporate controlled patented seeds.
Today, one major focus is to conserve drought resistant seed varieties and crops such as millets which are both easier to grow in an increasingly drier, hotter climate, and also have a better nutritional profile than the more widespread water guzzling green revolution crops like rice.
Bringing fundamental social change through education: Training is a fundamental activity for Amrita Bhoomi. There are training programmes for women and men farmers of all ages, and programmes specifically directed at youth. Options for rural youth in the countryside are few, and migration is rampant.
Amrita Bhoomi targets young people who don’t have the necessary skills to work on the land and trains them to create farming models that are economically viable, agroecological, and which provide a dignified life for their families.
Agroecology training centre and model farms
The 66 acre Amrita Bhoomi agroecology training centre in the Biligiri Ranga Hills, is surrounded by three national parks. Along with a number of model agroecology farms, the centre also houses an indigenous seed & livestock bank, a garden conserving medicinal varieties that currently face extinction, an auditorium for 250 people, and a training centre with classrooms and dormitories, with excellent food provided by the centre’s chef.
The model farms are run by peasant youth interns, who each mange them for a couple of years under guidance from expert farmers, in order to acquire practical agroecology skills. Amrita Bhoomi currently has model farms for zero budget natural farming, agroforestry, seed production, rice and millets in drought conditions, oil seeds production, vegetable plots, as well as medicinal plants.
ZBNF ‘toolkit’ and massive ZBNF training camps
The basic ZBNF ‘toolkit’ of methods was put together by Mr Subhash Palekar, an agricultural scientist. Disillusioned by the ill effects of the green revolution on his own family farm, he drew from extensive research and observation of ecological processes and indigenous farming methods during his work in the 1990’s.
Palekar dedicates himself to teaching ZBNF at massive training camps across the country, and is its principal resource person or guru, as ZBNF members call him. Details on core ZBNF methods & practices – La Via Campesina case study on ZBNF in India.
Indigenous Seed Bank
To be at the frontlines of biodiversity conservation and against agribusiness’s plans for domination over farmers and nature, Amrita Bhoomi has a fast-growing seed bank that includes at least 100 varieties of rice, 26 varieties of Ragi, 14 varieties of other minor millets, and many vegetable varieties – native seeds are reproduced on seed plots for distribution at nominal prices among farmers. There is also a garden with special local medicinal plants that are endangered and rare.
A key problem facing India’s livestock sector is a loss of local livestock varieties. The government has promoted crossbreeding with exotic cow varieties, that are unsuitable to the hot, dry Indian climate and which require high inputs and aftercare, medication and water. Meanwhile, India’s diverse local cow breeds (Bos Indicus) are hardier, and require much less aftercare and if bred selectively, some of these varieties are capable of producing a high quality and quantity of milk. If farmers want to buy local varieties (which cost less than the foreign cows), it’s not easy to find them. So Amrita Bhoomi has a small local “livestock bank” with 14 native cows – where it is breeding and reproducing local cow varieties for distribution among farmers, to conserve the disappearing indigenous livestock varieties.
Peasant Youth Internships
Rural youth from peasant families are able to manage a small piece of land for a year or two to learn agroecological skills and return as trainers to their communities.
“For me being a graphic designer was boring. I sat at a desk all day long and worked for someone else … Going to Amrita Bhoomi and learning the practical skills of farming was one of my greatest life decisions.” Narendra, Bangalore.
The promotion of the ancient grain millet is a key campaign, as millets were largely removed from Indian diets and farms because of the green revolution. Amrita Bhoomi houses a large collection of millet seeds, which it multiplies for distribution among farmers, and holds various workshops to train farmers on millet production – at the end of which farmers are given millet seeds for planting.
The same farmers are invited to attend millet fairs to sell their produce to urban consumers, linking with urban retail groups to carry out direct marketing to consumers. A first millets fair was held in 2017 for a massive seed exchange in various districts of Karnataka, working with the state government.
Amrita Bhoomi Training Programs
There are short courses (1-2 days) and in-depth courses over a couple of months. These are mostly taught in collaboration with allied teachers, trainers, local NGOs and peasants. Farmer-to-farmer training is a key method used for some of the agroecology courses, where experienced farmers share their knowledge with other farmers, who then engage in a collective reflection as part of the learning process.
These courses can take place on the Amrita Bhoomi campus, or also on farmers’ fields. Some of the key training topics include agroecology practices and theory, alternative economies/markets, agroforestry, seed saving, value addition, renewable energy, climate resistant peasant crops like millets, gender and agriculture, and a history of peasant movements among others.
Beyond Technical Education
Courses are both technical and philosophical/ideological. Major issues addressed, especially among the youth, include understanding their society, their role as farmers, caste, class, gender, religion and power relations.
They learn practical farming skills, to put them into practice back home, and to be inspired to slowly make changes to their realities. Practicing agroecological farming on their land, backed up by a more critical understanding of rural reality, helps to put in perspective the importance of their organized efforts.
Future areas of interest:
Amrita Bhoomi demonstrates the successful development of ‘relevantto-user’ agroecology education and demonstration, in the most relevant physical context, listening and responding to local needs.
Relative Location: combining work on seed sovereignty and practical agroecology methods, enables two key issues to be co-located, with mutual benefits to peasant farmers by doing so, which enables more dynamic, effective and creative sharing of best practice through farmer to farmer training.
Small change for big effects: by organising mass training camps, while this is no small challenge it means that one single training event can create massive benefits for many people.
Permaculture Principles in Action: multifunction; multi-supply; relative location; observe & interact.
The Amrita Bhoomi focus on ZBNF with a practical toolkit, with farmer-to-farmer training, mass training camps, and the inclusion of training on philosophy and ideology creates highly effective systems of education-for-action tailored to men, women and youth, which have multiplied and grown the diversity of beneficial impacts they produce.
What experience from Amrita Bhoomi could help your project, community or network in relation to:
a) Linking basic permaculture design education more directly to practical training in agroecology methods, such as the ZBNF toolkit?
b) Training young people and small farmers to be teachers, alongside the creation of demonstration plots that relate to local and social needs of your region?
c) Project development and evolution, and scaling-up practical training in valuable ways at the local level?
A great dream of Amrita Bhoomi and KRRS that is slowly coming true has been to have a public policy on Zero Budget Natural Farming in Karnataka and across India.
The neighbouring state, Andhra Pradesh, launched a policy recently to scale up ZBNF among 500,000 farmers. It supports ZBNF as a solution to farmer suicide, and works through grassroots farmer institutions and farmer to farmer training.
Amrita Bhoomi and allies in Karnataka held several meetings with officials in the state to have a similar initiative in Karnataka. Great news arrived in June 2018 when the Karnataka government also announced an investment in ZBNF.
The Lush Spring Prize funds also arrived in June! So Amrita Bhoomi’s next steps are to use the funds to join others in the ZBNF movement to support the government policy, monitor its impacts and work to expand the scaling up through civil society efforts.
“The Zero Budget Natural Farming policy is such a lovely policy that is based on farmer initiatives, and when the state puts its weight behind agroecology then a lot can be achieved,” explains Chukki Nanjundaswamy, the Karnataka State Farmers Movement (KRRS) president and Amrita Bhoomi’s coordinator.
Project Needs: Food processing and marketing. Amrita Bhoomi is looking to establish various processing units run by enterprises of rural women and youth using local produce. Processing can include production of food, cosmetics, fibre, etc.
Project Offers: Amrita Bhoomi welcomes groups looking to learn Zero Budget Natural Farming & seed saving techniques.
Amrita Bhoomi is a registered Trust under the Indian Trusts Act. It has a team of 20 volunteer staff, including a coordination
team, seed team, training team and youth interns.
Amrita Bhoomi was originally launched with the support of the Italian farmers organization, Associazione SUM. It received a
further grant from the Karnataka State government in 2013. Since then, Amrita Bhoomi has received some small donations,
the Lush Spring Prize (2018, Influence Award), and it is also earning from production on its farms.
Apthapi Comunidades del Vivir Bien believes that we live in a time of imbalance between human beings, and between the latter and nature, such that our very existence is in danger.
It suggests that we need to regenerate and restore ways in which we can relate and coexist for greater natural and social equilibrium.
This gave birth to the idea of creating a space where it can teach and show that Vivir Bien (living well) is possible; a space where it can raise new generations that learn to respect and care for a more balanced way of life, known as the “Escuela del Vivir Bien” (School of living well).
The School is a new initiative of four organisations that are combining their experiences: Flor de Leche, Inti Phajsi, Casa Espejo and Wayna Tambo, and is carried out in the districts of Achocalla, El Alto and La Paz in Bolivia.
It will be used by groups of people organised under a collective, institution or association that can learn and then implement the proposed curriculum in their territories.
ARCAH ‘The Association of Rescue of Citizenship Through Affection Towards Humanity’ – was founded in 2013 by a group of young people from the city of São Paulo that wanted to act at the root cause of homelessness, poverty and scarcity in urban centers.
After years of taking food and clothing to people living in the streets, the group decided to act at another level, bringing permaculture and other abundant based concepts to help create permanent change.
ARCAH is now building a new farm near the city, to rescue and shelter more homeless people, and creating new urban farms in downtown São Paulo, turning public and private spaces into organic permaculture farming spots inside the city.
ARCAH’s future plans is to expand both urban and rural farms, so that people that suffer the most from lack of employment, resources and quality of life can change their destiny into an abundant one.
ARD Agriculture and Research Development is an agricultural company dedicated to promoting Regenerative Agriculture and Ecological Awareness in Jordan, founded in 2020.
The project began with the design of a profitable model of Regenerative Agriculture Farming in the farm so it stands as a model in Jordan. In addition, they established a centre to host activities (workshops, training and residencies) to involve the community. The site provides accommodation, tools and equipment, and they want to collaborate with locals, universities, research institutes and cultural centres and promote cross-sector cooperation to stand as an incubation hub for local green projects.
ARD wants to collect the data along the way and build a platform for research and development in the field of Regenerative Agriculture and Ecology in both English and Arabic to promote its practice in Jordan and the region. In 5 years they see ARD becoming a physical hub for learning regenerative practices in the Region and a prolific online platform.
The Kariri-Xocó sleep and wake up fighting for their existence. Within their territory is a unique biome, the meeting of the Caatinga – the only exclusively Brazilian biome – with the Atlantic Forest. Their village is located on the banks of the Opará, the São Francisco River in Brazil. Yet, even so, their lands and plants are dry because the river suffers.
The Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri-Xocó was born with the mission of fighting for the preservation of their life and that of all the beings that live there. It gathers children, young people and elders to be together, as their ancestors did. In addition to nurturing culture, they plant community gardens, harvest and feed themselves in groups of up to 100 people a day, and hold their Torés, dialogues, games, football and other activities.
They dream of taking back ancestral memory and guaranteeing food, collective work, union and the strengthening of their culture. With this project they see a great possibility of survival for their ethnic group and village. It provides the hope of resistance for their people.
Associação de Jovens Guerreiros Guardiões da Floresta, was founded in 2011 in Marechal Thaumaturgo, Brazil, to work on the training and qualification of young leaders and workers in agroforestry systems, combining the diversity of plants, fruit trees and hardwoods, balancing natural resources and protecting nature for future generations.
Historically there was no difficulty in finding food in the region; everything was abundant. But as time went by, species of wood and animals and fish began to disappear. The destruction of the forest, gradually caused by human consumption, led to a food crisis that, they explain, “worries everyone who lives in close contact with nature.”
The association focuses on the regeneration of these degraded areas, with planting and reforestation of species of fruit plants and wood from the region. They also focus on investing in diversified ecological productions, such as beekeeping and the management of wild animals. They have developed ecological planning for the present and future of their municipality and our planet.
Associação Terra Sintrópica was born from a collaborative spirit in 2018, when a group of people (motivated citizens) came together to respond to a set of challenges that affected the territory, such as desertification, depopulation and climate change, in Mértola Portugal.
In a participatory, community-based and multi-stakeholder approach, we intend to become a replicable prototype for the development of best practices in regeneration: Mértola – Laboratory for the Future. Through “regeneration by use”, we promote a local foodnetwork and we test and apply agro-ecological farming solutions.
We run a logistics centre and a pilot-and demonstration farm where the regenerative practices with the best results for the territory are tested, so that other farmers can use them. The initiative increases local self-esteem and it helped to create social and economic perspectives, fostering the settlement of new local residents and entrepreneurs.
The team has been grown to 12 co-workers, more than 60 volunteers and interns have visited and contributed, also have integrated master and doctoral students focusing on experimentation and research.
The “Autonome Heilschule Wendland” is a project in creation.
We want to establish a healing school, where people can self-study or attend daily classes, that is open for everyone that wants to learn about alternative medicine and treatments, to find individual approaches to their health. It is a place for support and exchange with a medicinal garden, apothecary, movement room and more.
We will organise regular courses and workshops to facilitate the transmission of knowledge from specialists to the people, regardless of their income, background and identities.
Be-in-cO stands for BEleif and BEing present, INspiration, INnovation and INterconnectedness, and for COmmunication, COcreation and COmmunity.
We facilitate transformative workshops to enable individuals, communities and organizations to realize their collective intelligence and co-create positive change.
We combine our expertise in social entrepreneurship and facilitation with the most innovative participatory methodologies and provide teams with alternative tools that are extremely precious in our chaotic, fast-changing world.
We work with cross-sector change makers and social entrepreneurs, social and humanitarian organizations, disadvantaged populations, volunteers, educators, communities and the business sector. We consider what we do to be the regeneration of human connection.
Benaa aims to empower Arabian youth to build sustainable development projects, and create an interactive enabling environment in the MENA region.
These projects cover:
Amatlán de Quetzalcóatl, Tepoztlán, Mexico, is an indigenous town with an important tradition of corn planting and milpa culture.
Conventional agricultural models and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have led to soil erosion and decreased soil fertility. The rainfall regime is also changing.
Based on the economic and social consequences of the covid 19 pandemic, Biocenosis decided to propose a model of local resilience in the face of global crises through the collective work of regenerative agriculture.
Using successional agroforestry systems, five project members and three farmers from Tepoztlán began planting rainfed crops in order to create a sustainable productive model adapted to the local context.
With this initiative, we hope to demonstrate the social, ecological and economic viability of this type of project, train at least 100 people annually and help transform the reality of the farmers involved in the Cuauhnáhuac micro-region and bioregion.
Acting as a centre for climate resilience in South Devon, Bioregional Learning Centre knits together all parts of society, a wide range of sectors, many kinds of knowledge, a can-do attitude and regenerative practices.
As a learning centre, BLC values and stretches all the innovation already going on and shares the collective learnings. As a ‘systems lab’ we demonstrate through interventions and projects what strategic systems-change looks like on the ground.
Since its foundation in 2017, BLC has:
1. Prototyped a baseline assessment of regenerative potential for a bioregion using Story of Place.
2. Mapped the green shoots of vitality and innovation in South Devon by leading a Bioregional Learning Journey for climate resilience.
3. Brought the voice of civil society into river management alongside water experts, land owners and water itself to pioneer the Charter for the River Dart at Dartington.
4. Convened the Devon Doughnut Collective in co-creating the Devon Doughnut. The outcome will be a contextualized ecological and economic baseline and pathways for innovative action.
The Bioregional Learning Centre sits amongst a network of local people and organisations in South Devon where community innovation, local economics, and regeneration of place is already happening.
Our work is aimed at increasing the scale, pace and efficacy required to make this happen.
The region has the potential to become a centre of excellence in the UK, known for examples where we have changed our relationships with food, water, energy, soil, waste, ecology and economy, seen over time as an interrelated system.
We build partnerships and work in collaborative project teams to design and implement solutions to regional wellbeing and sustainability. Using best practice techniques for creative engagement we organise design days, get projects off the ground, hold the whole picture, connect people to each other and people to place.