New Edited Book: Critical Adult Education in Food Movements

Critical Adult Education in Food Movements

This book focuses on research that shows the importance of critical adult education for the spread of food sovereignty and agroecology to more people and places. It pays particular attention to the important role that learning, education and pedagogy can play in social transformation for food sovereignty and justice—an approach referred to broadly as “Learning for Transformation”. It reveals common dynamics and principles that critical education for food sovereignty share in different contexts. The book draws together 8 chapters that offer new critical insights about why, where, and how learning for transformation is being implemented,—and what next.

This book contributes to the ALC stream of research on “pedagogy and learning for agroecology”, which can be viewed hereThis book, originally published as a special issue in Agriculture and Human Values, brings further visibility to the contributions of the authors. Over the last three years, the work on pedagogy, education and learning in agroecology, food sovereignty and sustainable food systems continues to grow, with many new contributions deepening our understanding of the ways that learning can be configured in different contexts to advance change. For example, this recent special issue on, Critical and Equity-Oriented Pedagogical Innovations in Sustainable Food Systems Education, includes 14 original research and perspective articles that dig deep into questions on how to tackle inequity and build critical perspectives in/through food system education. A quick search on Google Scholar on education and agroecology (here) or food sovereignty (here) reveals a trove of wonderful papers from around the world exploring some of the evolving contours of this area of scholarship. For those hungry to develop their understanding, theory and practice – we invite you to click through and explore. Should you lack access to any of these articles, please reach out to the authors.

Critical Adult Education in Food Movements
Editors: Colin R. Anderson, Rosa Binimelis Adell, Michel P. Pimbert, Marta Rivera Ferre

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction to the symposium on critical adult education in food movements: learning for transformation in and beyond food movements—the why, where, how and the what next?. . . 1
Colin R. Anderson, R. Binimelis, M. P. Pimbert, and M. G. Rivera-Ferre

Transformative agroecology learning in Europe: building consciousness, skills and collective capacity for food sovereignty . . . 11
Colin R. Anderson, Chris Maughan, and Michel P. Pimbert

Farming for change: developing a participatory curriculum on agroecology, nutrition, climate change and social equity in Malawi and Tanzania . . . 29
Rachel Bezner Kerr, Sera L. Young, Carrie Young, Marianne V. Santoso, Mufunanji Magalasi, Martin Entz, Esther Lupafya, Laifolo Dakishoni, Vicki Morrone, David Wolfe, and Sieglinde S. Snapp

Multi-actor networks and innovation niches: university training for local Agroecological Dynamization . . . 47
Daniel López-García, Laura Calvet-Mir, Marina Di Masso, and Josep Espluga

What’s wrong with permaculture design courses? Brazilian lessons for agroecological movement-building in Canada . . . 61
Marie-Josée Massicotte and Christopher Kelly-Bisson

Teaching the territory: agroecological pedagogy and popular movements . . . 75
Nils McCune and Marlen Sánchez

Food sovereignty education across the Americas: multiple origins, converging movements . . . 91
David Meek, Katharine Bradley, Bruce Ferguson, Lesli Hoey, Helda Morales, Peter Rosset, and Rebecca Tarlau

Images of work, images of defiance: engaging migrant farm worker voice through community-based arts . . . 107
Adam Perr

New Edition of Agroecology Textbook Features ALC Co-Authors

Hot off the press! The new edition of the foundational textbook “Agroecology” is now available! Congratulations to co-authors Ernesto Méndez (ALC), Vic Izzo (ALC), Steve Gliessman, and Eric W. Engles, and to Andrew Gerlicz (ALC) who provided editorial support!
 
This edition focuses on the transformations necessary for achieving a just and sustainable food system, capturing agricultural, ecological, economic, social, cultural, and political elements of agroecology. It includes new chapters of relevant topics, such as ‘Ecological Pest, Weed, and Disease Management’, ‘Agriculture and the Climate Crisis’, and Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture.
 

The ALC Receives Regional Award for Excellence in Community Engagement Scholarship

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named the University of Vermont (UVM) as regional winner of the 2022 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award in recognition of the extraordinary community engagement of the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative (ALC), as a community of practice working to advance participatory action research (PAR) and agroecology around the world. Read the full article by CALS Communications Manager Rachel Leslie, here. View the video produced as part of the award competition below.

Each One Teach One Agroecology Encounter brings together activists, farmers, and farmworkers from the Global North and South

Tammy Harris of SAAFON facilitating a session at the Encounter. Photo Credit: Jesús Vázquez

The use of agroecology to confront social injustice was at the center of discussion during this summer’s Each One Teach One Agroecology Encounter, a three-day event convened by the organization Rural Vermont as a celebration of La Vía Campesina’s 30-year anniversary. The Encounter brought together around 140 activists, farmers, and farmworkers from throughout the Americas at the Center for Grassroots Organizing in Marshfield, Vermont. Those attending included local Vermont organic farmers, migrant farm workers and climate migrants; members of the Black agrarian movement from the Southern US; urban farmers and youth of all ages; and delegates from national and international peasant and farmworker organizations (see full list below). The Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative (ALC) was on hand to gather stories, support organizers, and facilitate participation by international guests.

The format of the event was part community discussion, part skill-share. Local farmers and community leaders shared workshops on draft animals, the solidarity economy, herbalism, work brigades, printing, and participatory pizza-making. While participants held in common the goal of healthier communities, ecosystems, and societies, the unique perspectives present contributed to dynamic conversations where distinct ways of understanding and using agroecology were explored.

Photo Credit: Jesús Vázquez

Attendees also looked to the future, envisioning a system of Via Campesina North American schools of agroecology (NASA) where people from grassroots organizations would build skills in both the productive and community-organizing dimensions of agroecology. This approach is inspired by existing and successful models of agroecology and movement-building schools in other regions of La Via Campesina. The schools provide technical agroecological training, popular political education, and traditional ecological knowledge, while being rooted in the specific needs of local communities. The dialogues at the Agroecology Encounter revealed questions about access and audience and, in particular, a demand for educational processes that meet the needs of young people of color who don’t currently have access to farmland. These topics will re-emerge in additional listening sessions planned for the months to come.

The event is part of process that began with a Campesinx-a-Campesinx gathering in 2014 in Florida, which gave rise to around a dozen encounters of the People’s Agroecology Process in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico between 2014-2020. In 2021, the ALC partnered with the People’s Agroecology Process to offer an advanced course in people’s agroecology – using technology to further enrich the conversation and relationships even when gathering in person wasn’t an option. The ALC engages in movement activities as part of its Participatory Action Research approach and its commitment to transformative collective impact through scholar-activism and long-term, horizontal relationships.

National and International Peasant and Farmworker Organizations Represented at the Encounter: Family Farm Defenders (USA), Small and Heritage Black Farmers & Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (USA), National Family Farm Coalition (USA), Migrant Justice (USA), Farmworkers Association of Florida (USA), Union Paysanne (Canada), National Farmers Union (Canada), Unión Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autónomas (Mexico), Unión de Pueblos de Morelos (Mexico), Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (Nicaragua), Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Indígenas y Negras (Ecuador), and the Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas (Chile)
Photos Credit: Jesús Vázquez

Protocols, Principles and Guidelines for Participatory Action Research + Related Traditions of Research

We frequently hear requests for simple, short guidelines or principles that can be used by practitioners of participatory approaches to research, learning and action. In this context, we put a call out for ‘your input!’ to create a crowdsourced curated reading list on ‘protocols and guidelines for participatory, engaged-, decolonial, indigenous, feminist and other related traditions of research’. 

While we will make reference to more conceptual and longer pieces on these topics (and the importance of not only focusing on technical ‘protocols’), we are focusing on compiling accessible, short and pragmatic resources.

Do you have anything to add? Ideas? Comments? Links? Write to: colin.anderson@uvm.edu

List curated by Colin Anderson with input from Csilla Kiss, Maywa Montenegro de Wit, Michelle Nikfarjam, Jasber Singh, Tabitha Martens, Stephane McLachlanChiara Tornaghi and Lamis Jamil

The Curated List

Other related resources suggested as a part of the crowdsourcing process

Enroll now in popular UVM courses on transformative agroecology for the Fall semester

Interested in deepening your knowledge of Participatory Research?

Want to take a deep dive into Social Movement organizing for food sovereignty and agroecology?

This Fall, the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative is offering two online courses for graduate students, advanced undergrads as well as activists and professionals seeking creative learning in agroecology. Read below to learn more about these course offerings.

We believe that we learn best from a diversity of sources and a diversity of voices – online participation means you can join us from almost anywhere. Read below about our two offerings this autumn (September-December 2022).

Note that two additional agroecology courses will be offered in the spring semester (Jan-May 2023):
The Ecological Foundations of Agroecology (PSS 312) and a new course tentatively titled “Agroecological Transitions for More Just and Sustainable Food Systems” will be offered in Spring ’23. These courses can be taken as a part of a Certificate of Graduate study in agroecology (learn more here).

Available for credit or for non-credit (continuing professional development)
Instructor: Colin R. Anderson (colin.anderson@uvm.edu)
Class meeting times and location: August 30-December 6. 2 hour Weekly online meetings on Tuesdays (time tbd).

Participatory, transdisciplinary and action research have become internationally recognized as pillars of knowledge production for sustainable and just food systems. Participatory Action Research (PAR) can be described as a process of research, education and action in which participants work together to understand and transform reality.

In this course, students will examine how these approaches can deepen our collective understanding of complex issues and support societal transformations for social justice and sustainability, especially in the context of agroecology. Together, we will encounter the ‘politics of knowledge’ or the ways that power and privilege shape science, academia, innovation, and development, as well as the value of “people’s knowledge”. We will also engage with critical theoretical traditions, such as feminism and decoloniality.

Then we will get practical and focus on the nuts and bolts of doing PAR in agrifood system studies and action. We will examine examples of agroecological PAR projects, to draw lessons learned and to find inspiration. We will shine a spotlight on several methods used within this tradition including, for example, participatory photography, popular education, theatre, indigenous approaches, deliberative methodologies, auto-ethnography and different forms of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods inquiry. This course develops students’ PAR and transdisciplinary competencies through a systematic engagement with theory, skills, methods, and a critical reflexive self-examination of our role in the research processes.Au

Photo Credit: La Via Campesina

Agroecology, Food Sovereignty & Social Movements (PSS 314)

Available for credit or for non-credit (continuing professional development)
Instructor: Martha Caswell (martha.caswell@uvm.edu)
Class meeting times and location: Weekly online meetings on Wednesdays from 9:00 – 10:30 EST.

Agroecology and food sovereignty are increasingly seen as intertwined alternatives to the predominant globalized and industrial agrifood model. “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.” (Declaration of Nyéléni, 2007)

In this course, we will ask questions about the coherence of food sovereignty as the path forward, and about the role of social movements as the driver of change. Students will investigate social, political, and economic elements of the global food system from multiple perspectives, considering the ability to scale-up agroecology, and the potential intersection between agroecology, food sovereignty, and government policies. We’ll benefit from guest lectures by several professionals actively involved in the struggle for agroecology and food sovereignty.

New Publication Series: Perspectives on Agroecology Transitions

The ALC Agroecology Support Team in their work with the McKnight CCRP program launches a new publication series: Perspectives on Agroecology TransitionsThis series of short publications explores different aspects of agroecology transitions. It focuses on praxis, which is the continual consideration of theory/reflection with practice/action. This helps us to think deeply about our work and how to best contribute to social transformation. These short publications, each available in French, Spanish and English, are intended to be used by agents of change in agroecology transitions (including farmers, activists, researchers, policy-makers and others). 

The first publications in the series have been released:

No. 1 – Sweet Rose in the Field

English; French; Spanish

A spotlight profile on Ross Mary Borja, Director of EkoRural in Ecuador and her reflections on agroecology transitions.

No. 2 – Embracing Critical Friendship for Agroecology Transitions

English; French; Spanish

Presents the idea of critical friendship as as a method for anyone seeking to become better agents of change in processes of agroecology transitions.

Further publications in the series are in the works and will be released occasionally as they are finalized. Stay tuned for more.

Join our Introduction to Agroecology Course this Spring

Join our Introduction to Agroecology Course this Spring

Looking for a crash course that brings a learning community together to explore the social, political, ecological and cultural dimensions of agroecology? Join in on our Intro to Agroecology course. This year’s offering is fully online and will bring you into an interactive learning environment with committed instructors and inspiring guest speakers. More information below.

Click here to learn more and to register.

Questions can be directed to the co-instructors Vic Izzo (victor.izzo@uvm.edu) and Martha Caswell (martha.caswell@uvm.edu).

This 4-week online course presents an in-depth overview of research and applications in the field of agroecology. The last week students will participate in a virtual experience that engages with practitioners from our widespread agroecology network.

The course seeks to provide students with both conceptual and practical content, covering the evolution of the field of agroecology, from its origins to the present, as it gains increasing recognition in scientific, policy, social movement and farming spaces. Students will engage in some of the debates agroecologists are now facing, as they grapple with maintaining the core characteristics of the field as it is increasingly applied by a wide diversity of actors. A special emphasis is placed on discussing the different expressions of agroecology as a science, a social movement and a practice. We will consider the intersections of agroecology and transdisciplinarity, as we integrate different knowledge systems to search for solutions to the current challenges of our agrifood systems. And finally, we will explore the use of participatory action research (PAR) and agroecology principles, as an essential approach to agroecological research and practice. We will cover international and domestic geographic perspectives, and examine, more in- depth, agroecology and PAR with 3-4 local Vermont farms.

COURSE DAYS & TIMES: 

  • Full Course timeline: May 23 – June 17, 2022

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

  • Describe the state and evolution of the field of agroecology and engage in the debate on agroecology’s dimensions as a science, a social movement and a practice
  • Understand and apply a principles-approach to agroecology
  • Understand some of the opportunities and challenges of applying agroecology and PAR in three local Vermont farms
  • Understand the challenges and opportunities of applying agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach
  • Engage in active peer-to-peer learning with fellow classmates, instructors and guests.

Students taking it as a non-credit course will receive a Digital Badge signifying completion of the course.

Event: “How the Other Half Eats” – an Online Seminar with Priya Fielding-Singh

Event: “How the Other Half Eats” – an Online Seminar with Priya Fielding Singh

Join us for this online event with Priya Fielding-Singh for a presentation and interactive discussion of her new book, How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequity in America.

February 23rd, 11am-12:30pm EST on Zoom. Click Here to Register

Hosted by the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative, The Gund Institute for the Environment and Food Systems Graduate Program at UVM.

Inequality in America manifests in many ways, but perhaps nowhere more than in how we eat. In this session, sociologist and ethnographer PriyaFielding-Singh draws on her years of field research to bring us into the kitchens of dozens of families to explore how—and why—we eat the way we do. She will discuss her timely and powerful new book, How the Other Half Eats, which unpacks nutritional inequality in America through an in-depth examination of class, race and health. 

Shifting Funding to Agroecology for People, Climate and Nature

A new report produced by ActionAid with the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative and Cultivate! on “Shifting Funding to Agroecology for People, Climate and Nature“.

Click here to read the new report:
Shifting Funding to Agroecology for People, Climate and Nature

The majority of public and philanthropic funding supports ecologically and socially damaging forms of agriculture and food systems. How can financing be transformed so that it fosters transitions towards more just and sustainable food systems and enables agroecology to meet its full potential? This is the question that underpins a stream of research led by Coventry University, the University of Vermont and AgroecologyNow!.

The Need to Transform Food Systems

We urgently need to transform food systems. The depth of the ecological and social threats we are facing are staggering. A growing pile of high-profile UN and scientific reports have shown how the industrial food system is failing to nourish people around the world and at the same time is directly linked to growing inequality, injustice, ill-health, climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse.

Business as usual is no longer an option and we need to transform how we produce, move around and consumer food. Agroecology reflects a paradigmatic shift that can guide our pursuit of more  just and sustainable food systems, and reflects a bold transformation that is becoming increasingly attractive, viable and urgent.

Our action research on agroecology transformations is a part of a growing body of work in social movements, civil society, academia and amongst food producers to figure out how we get from here to there: how do we transition from our current state of crisis and degeneration to just and sustainable food systems. The question of how to finance or resource these transitions is a vital, yet grossly underdeveloped area of work.


Video 1 – UVM’s Colin Anderson and Nina Moeller (from CAWR at Coventry University) presented results of their studies analyzing finance for agroecology at an official COP26 side event in Glasgow November 2022. “How effective is climate finance in catalzing an urgently needed paradigm shift in food systems?” with a resounding: “a lot remains to be done!” A representative of the Green Climate Fund listened. We can only hope the conversation will continue. Click this link to watch the recording.

Our recent brief highlights how, in an enabling policy context, agroecology has proven to achieve robust gains in poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, women and youth empowerment and biodiversity and climate resilience.

Agroecology applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems. It includes practices aimed at mimicking or harnessing complex ecological processes, moving beyond the farm to include food production, distribution, consumption, and waste management.

Historically, although science plays an important role in developing agroecology, the knowledge that underpins agroecology has emerged from the practices of indigenous peoples and smallholders across the world. Agroecology is a scientifically and experientially justified practice of agriculture that (1) is sensitive to the ecosystems in which it takes place and (2) fosters the democratic participation of food producers, putting human rights and agency at the center.

Video 2 – In a recently published animation, we articulate the main arguments that have arisen through our research on financing and agroecology. “Institutions keep pouring money into harmful industrial agriculture. We urgently need investments in agroecology. We need to defund industrial agriculture and funnel that money into agroecology. Furthermore the delivery of funding needs to be better so that it can support agroecological pioneers and work for systemic change. It’s time to make money move for agroecology and together foster social justice and sustainability in food systems.” Also in Spanish and French subtitles.

Transforming Finance for Agroecology


Our research makes it clear that financing from institutions and donors for agricultural and rural development is woefully inadequate and work against just transitions in food systems.  This is an issue of both quantity and quality:

1. Quantity: There is not enough money going to agroecology.

Even within the already small amount of financing for agricultural development as a whole, almost all of this funding is allocated to encouraging farmers to adopt detrimental forms of high-energy, high-input industrial agriculture. A growing body of research has shown how agroecology is significantly marginalised in the financial architecture of development at all levels. There is a clear need to shift more funds towards agroecology.

The need to shift the quantity of money away from industrial agriculture was articulated brilliantly by one of our research participants,

“But another dimension of funding agro ecology is also linked to the amount of funding and the amount of support both in terms of policy as well as in terms of investments, that goes to the opposite of agroecology. And in some respect, one could claim that stopping this counter investments and the continued policy inclination for the opposite of what the agroecology wants to the kind of transformational agroecology wants to promote is equally important than generating let’s say, direct funding for agroecology. You could say that many agro ecological solutions actually squeezed by an over funded and an over emphasized other type of agriculture and other type of food system.”

2. Quality: Funding that is allocated towards sustainable agriculture and agroecology is often delivered in unhelpful and even damaging ways

The mechanisms, delivery and ‘modalities’ of funding are often highly problematic because they: are driven by donor rather than peoples needs; fail to affirm the agency of people; are inflexible; have inappropriate monitoring/evaluation systems; do not address inequity; and are based on short term approaches.

We have been working with Donors (e.g. the European Union, FAO, Green Climate Fund, Agroecology Fund), advocacy groups (Action Aid, CIDSE) and other researchers to explore the question of: When donors do decide to target sustainable agroecological food systems, how can we transform the modes and approaches of financing so that it actually enables agroecology?

Based on this research, a recent policy brief with Action Aid International provides a series of considerations and recommendations to increase the quantity and quality of funding for agroecology:

  • Substantially shift funding allocations to agroecology.
  • Funding for agroecology should be underpinned by a principle of co-governance where donors are accountable to the most affected. Donors should consider long-term multi-phased support for building agroecology in territories.
  • For financial support to be effective in supporting agroecology, a large portion of it needs to be comprised of small to mid-scale grants through food producer organizations and civil society organizations who are close to the ground.
  • Currently, agroecology is often marginally, or not at all, included in agricultural funding programs. Donors should closely evaluate their funding programs and shift towards agroecology explicitly as a target of funding.
  • Agroecology transitions are complex social and participatory processes that require adaptability in how plans are developed and implemented. In this context, it is vital that funders allow for flexibility in spending, activities and in monitoring and evaluation.
  • We recommend that donors engage in an in-depth and ongoing dialogue with food producer organizations to examine and increase the quantity and effectiveness of funds that are allocated towards agroecology, and to improve the quality of delivery.

This work continues, as we collaborate with our partners to advance the Transformation of public and philanthropic finance so that agroecology can achieve its unmet potential as a vital approach to confronting our global challenges.

Contact: colin.anderson@uvm.edu for more information.