Justice Begins with Seeds

I really enjoyed this post of  an interview with Katherine Zavala at  IDEX who will be a presenter at the upcoming Justice Begins with Seeds Conference in San Francisco on May 18th and 19th 2012. IDEX seems to be a non-profit worth supporting. Please read the entire post from Justice Begins with Seeds at Planetshifter (or attend the conference if you can easily access the San Francisco bay area.  I wish I could go.)

“The purpose of the upcoming Justice Begins with Seeds conference is to grow the food sovereignty movement by advancing learning and building coalitions between the GMO counter-movement in the US, and other movements thriving to develop sustainable food systems, alleviate climate change through soil practices, defend the rights of indigenous communities, reduce social inequalities and encourage citizen democracy against corporatocracy.

Does IDEX promote permaculture as a localization strategy? If so, how?

International Development Exchange (IDEX) identifies, evaluates, and grows the best ideas from local leaders and organizations to alleviate poverty and injustice around the world. IDEX supports community-led solutions that are making a huge difference for people living in extreme poverty. The initiatives come from people who want to create change for themselves. We provide the financial support.

Local leaders and community members do the rest. The work or our grantees typically integrate two or more of our core themes:

• Women’s Empowerment
• Building local economies
• Caring for the environment

For many of the communities IDEX supports, land, water, and seeds are central to their survival, livelihoods and health. Permaculture is part of the agroecological practices our partner organizations value and promote to secure sustainability of their community livelihoods.

Together with these themes, our partners and grantees work in ways that honor the rights of women, indigenous communities and other minorities, reflect economic, social, cultural, and political realities, and create solutions that have commitment from the grassroots.

Please tell us what the key principles are in sustainable agriculture?

Thanks to the learnings of our South African partners: Biowatch and Surplus People’s Project based in Durban and Cape Town respectively, they’ve shared with us the core principles of agroecology, which is the model for sustainable agriculture. All the following text comes from a three-day agroecology conference workshop organized by Surplus People’s Project, African Center for Biosafety and the Right to Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign.

Agroecology (AE) came about with the convergence of two scientific disciplines: agronomy (the study of soil management and crop production) and ecology (the study of the relationships between organisms and the environment). As a science, AE is the application of ecological science to the study, design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems.

As a set of agricultural practices, AE seeks ways to enhance agricultural systems by mimicking natural processes, thus creating beneficial biological interactions and synergies between the components of the agro-ecosystem. It provides the most favorable soil conditions for plant growth, particularly by managing organic matter and by raising soil biotic activity.

Agroecology has the following core principles – it:

• Recycles nutrients and energy on the farm, rather than introducing external inputs;
• Integrates crops and livestock, because the one supports the other;
• Diversifies species and genetic resources in agro-ecosystems over time and space;
• Does not depend on a single crop;
• Does not use pesticides and fertilizers;
• Focuses on interactions and productivity across the agricultural system (every element, including soil, forest and livestock), rather than focusing on individual species; and
• Is highly knowledge-intensive, based on techniques that are developed from farmers’ knowledge and experimentation rather than delivered from the top down.

Agroecology as a basis for change – It is a counter movement to enable small-scale farmers and farm workers/ farm dwellers to take control of their natural resources and manage their environment in a sustainable way. It is viewed as an emancipatory political project based on social and economic justice, and rooted in ecologically sound practice.

Agroecology is not a one-size-fits-all approach – geographical and cultural diversity is important. Agroecology should be linked to broader social, political, cultural and economic transformation.”

Also see earlier post ……and the Echo Follows, Permaculture North and South

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