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On Thursday May 30, about 50 people gathered in the Lutkemeer polder, in Amsterdam West, to occupy a terrain for the 3rd edition of the Food Autonomy Festival. Activists chose to set up the festival on the same field where the action camp “Kampeer in de Lutkemeer” took place in September last year.
Why in de Lutkemeer Polder?
Indeed, having the FAF in this precise location was a way to bring attention to the struggle of De Boterbloem farm, which intends to keep on producing healthy, organic food for local people, despite the threat of Schiphol Area Development Company (SADC) to turn the fertile arable land into another business terrain. The volunteer-run, mobile action kitchen Le Sabot joined the occupation and fed festival participants, between 250 and 300 people, throughout all weekend!
Supporting smale-scale farmers
On Friday morning, under a bright and warm sunshine, after yoga (for some) and breakfast (for all!), two groups of about 25 people each left the camp to go directly help farmers. One group, joined by the young ones participating in the kids’ programme, crossed the road to work on De Boterbloem where they spread compost.
The other group cycled to Pluk , a community-supported agriculture farm located on the Fruittuin van West. There, people prepared beds for pumpkins. These are perfect examples of how a big group can complete large tasks in a relatively short time, while having fun and learning about the place and people in the process. Farmers then have more time and energy for other tasks, and they have an opportunity to share a moment with helpers from various horizons. That’s a great example of supporting small-scale farmers, the theme of the first panel discussion of the festival.
A Wide Programme
During the weekend, every activity, workshop or panel attracted many curious and motivated participants. People came from Germany, Belgium, the UK… to bring different perspectives and voices into the discussions. From learning about peasant struggles to joining a direct action training, festival attendants had quite some choice on their plate. Besides that, various collectives set up stalls with books, zines, food, seedlings, seed bombs, DIY t-shirt printing… See the complete programme there. We are now working on compiling workshop notes and reports! As soon as they are ready, we’ll add them at the end of this article. If you took notes or recorded an activity during FAF, please get in touch with us.
Let’s do better
On Saturday night, just like on Friday, several performances were on the schedule to relax and have fun after a long day, packed with activities and discussion. One of the performances was a theater play intended to mock Trump’s view of the world. During this play, several people felt uncomfortable, hurt or angry because it featured a stereotypical depiction of a Mexican person. Many people demanded the play to be stopped, while other spectators kept on watching. After the play was stopped, two persons volunteered to hold space for a large group conversation on this incident in particular, on racism and on how we all reacted (or not).
This incident and the way we collectively dealt with the situation are learning experiences for us all, yet painful for many. The organisers of the festival are planning to organise an evaluation session on what happened: how can we do better to prevent, or deal with such incidents in a constructive way?
Guerilla Gardening in the Tuinen van Lutkemeer
Sunday morning it was time again for some gardening, some guerilla gardening! This time a group of about 25 people left the camp with tools, tiny apple trees, currant bushes and vegetable seedlings. The goal was the field that the ‘development company’ wants to make ready for construction first. Some months ago people started to create gardens as an attempt to stop this destruction. With our garden work, we contributed to this action.
Holes were dug for the trees and berries. Compost was brought to the location with wheelbarrows and in between the berries some lines with lettuce and Brussels sprouts were planted. And last but not least: watering. It was a hot and sunny day so everything needed a lot of water to be able to survive and take root. And now we have to keep on supporting the struggle against the development company. Gooseberry fields forever!
As a reminder, the Food Autonomy Festival #3 stemmed from a horizontal process. It happened thanks to the work of a core group of volunteers from ASEED and beyond, who spent months on preparing this event. Without the involvement of many more volunteers (to cook during benefit dinners, at the info point, in the kitchen, to clean the toilets, to wrestle against the wind to surround the camp with beautiful banners, to facilitate difficult but necessary conversations…), and without dedicated, passionate volunteer speakers and worksop givers, the FAF#3 could not have taken place. A big thank you to all of them!
We would also like to thank the action funds that supported the FAF#3, including Het X-Y Actiefonds, Alert Funds, Frederik Hendrikschool Actiepot and Lush Netherlands. Together with the contributions from participants on the spot, this financial support helped us covering the infrastructure and action costs.
Looking forward: Free the soil!
So where to next? Of course we’ll see many of your faces at Ende Gelande June 19-24. Still haven’t booked a seat on the bus? Head here to check it out!
If you are excited about engaging with the agricultural justice movement and climate justice then you’ll be excited to hear that as part of our Fossil Free Agriculture campaign we have joined with the Free the Soil campaign. Free the Soil is a network of activists across Northern Europe who are organising a mass civil disobedience and action camp. The target? YARA – a multi-billion dollar company and the world’s largest producer of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with production facilities on six continents and sales to 160 countries. With it’s dangerous green washing strategies, YARA presents itself as a necessary component to the narrative of “feeding the world”. Through false marketing the company positions its fertilizers as “low carbon footprint” legitimizing industrial, destructive production methods as “environmentally friendly”. When released into the atmosphere nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent than CO2.
Join us to take action against this chemical giant! Next plenary for FTS is 14th-16th June. The camp and action is 19th-25th September, Brunsbuttel, Germany. Look forward to seeing you there! Please get in touch via email if you are interested.