From November 7th to 14th 2022, the project ‘Co-creating Socially Inclusive Youthwork with Agroecology’ (CoSIYA) brought together 28 youth workers from 9 agroecology, food and eco-social justice initiatives across Europe. During a one-week training coordinated by ASEED, the youth workers visited and learnt from like-minded projects in and around Amsterdam.
The Lens of Intersectional Food Justice
There are many great agroecology and food initiatives working to achieve social justice and ecological sustainability in and around Amsterdam. CoSIYA aimed to nourish their work by bringing together youth workers with experience to develop more intersectional approaches to youth work for a one-week training.
The focus was on non-formal learning and organising, and peer-to-peer learning. Within same exchange dynamic, CoSIYA responded to the need of the participating organisations from all over Europe to better include youths in all their diversity – especially those systematically marginalised (because of their gender, their race, their migration status, their cultural or socio-economic background, etc.) – within their initiatives.
There are many definitions of Food Justice. At ASEED, we agree with Elizabeth Henderson’s focus on 3 main aspects that this term cover:
- Access to healthy, locally grown, fresh, culturally appropriate food;
- Living wage jobs for all food system workers;
- Community control through cooperatives, local initiatives, community organisations…
In order to achieve Food Justice for all, an Intersectionality framework is indispensable. Such an approach allows to ‘understand how persons, or groups of people, are disadvantaged/advantaged by multiple sources of prejudice/power and discrimination, due to their uniquely overlapping structured identities and experiences such as race, class, gender, age, sexuality, disabilities, migration status and geopolitical location’.
Who were the participating organisations?
This week-long training gathered together youth workers from various organisations, besides ASEED: Toekomstboeren (NL), Diaconie van de Protestantse Gemeente/Wereldhuis (NL), Revista Soberania Alimentaria (Spain), GAIA – Grupo de Acção e Intervenção Ambiental (Portugal), GAIA (Kosovo), ARTIFACTORY (Greece), NOAH (Denmark), and CISV – Comunità Impegno Servizio Volontariato (Italy).
Together with ASEED, CISV, Revista Soberania Alimentaria, GAIA and ARTIFACTORY had already taken part in a similar EU-supported youth workers training named GENERA (Youth Empowerment in Rural Areas) in December 2019, in Catalonia. The goal was then to co-produce knowledge and tools with and for youth workers dedicated to gender empowerment in rural areas with a primary focus on women.
Building on GENERA, CoSIYA: moved to urban and peri-urban areas in and around Amsterdam; and extended its focus to diverse agroecology initiatives (led by and/or empowering youth with fewer opportunities) that work at the intersections of gender, migration status, race and socio-economic background.
What happened during CoSiYA?
CoSIYA consisted in a combination of excursions in various food initiatives in the city/region, interactive and creative workshops, discussion rounds, reflection and co-creation sessions, as well as hands-on activities such as farming.
Have a look at the programme:
Local organisations visited by the group of youth workers included CSA Pluk!, Cascoland and Wereldhuis (cooking teams), and initiatives that they had the opportunity to learn from included Taste Before You Waste!, Vokomokum, SoneBuTu, Boerderij De Meent, and Gira Holanda.
People from each of these initiatives prepared the exchange by brainstorming around 2 questions:
- What systemic and/or organizational changes need to happen for greater social justice and inclusion?
- What do we need to learn for greater social justice and inclusion to happen?
Youth workers were asked to use an intersectional food justice lens to identify a social challenge faced by each of those initiatives for achieving greater social justice and inclusion. After visiting and hearing from the different organizations, youth workers came back together, choose an initiative and a specific social challenge to work on, and reflected together on social practices/recommendations.
The purpose of the training week was to co-create a series of social justice practices that can be helpful, not only for those initiatives but for agroecology projects and communities. At the end of the week, the participants chose a format, a way to share and transmit their findings/conclusions. Five youth work practices were co-created and captured in video during the training.
During the training week in Amsterdam, we have gathered and co-created methods, tools, practices and strategies in order to include and empower diverse youths in the transformation of our food systems. The videos shot during the training are now available in a dedicated website. Here you can watch the videos, read about the processes and needs of the organizations we visited and heard from, and also find useful resources for social inclusion and justice.
We have also formed new connections, friendships, dynamics and this is not over… CoSIYA’s participating organisations are now part of an informal European network of youth-centred/youth-driven organisations for agroecology, food and eco-social justice.
CoSIYA certainly had a positive impact on ASEED and its network, and we learned a lot from coordinating such a training.
We want to give special thanks to all participants, initiatives, volunteers and funders!