We Feed the World explored the extraordinary stories of 50 communities around the world, featuring small-scale farmers and fishers from across the globe who are using regenerative techniques to nurture biocultural diversity. Launched in 2018, We Feed the World brought the efforts of these individuals and communities to light in the context of current challenges – from land-grabbing to deforestation – calling for global support of small-scale, agroecological farming. We are often told by corporations, governments and the media that without a high-tech, chemically intensive industrial food system, we would soon starve. We Feed The World cut through this misinformation to creatively tell the stories of the farmers and fishers who really feed the world.
Recognising that this is an ongoing journey, and with the imminent launch of We Feed The UK, we recently revisited some of the individuals and communities featured in the original campaign to find out where they are now, and bring you updates on their stories…
HOW IT STARTED:
Shashe, in Masvingo province of Central Zimbabwe, is a thriving agricultural community and the host one of La Via Campesina’s forty Agroecology Schools. Farmer delegates from around the world come to learn and share knowledge with Shashe’s farmers.
Two decades ago, the landscape of Shashe looked very different. This 15,000 acres of land belonged to just three commercial ranchers who raised cattle for export. Today, it is home to nearly 400 families who farm a wide variety of grain, vegetables and livestock that feed their families in a climatic and politically unstable environment. Born out of a need for land access, peasants, workers and spiritual leaders of the region came together and occupied the land for several years until eventually, as land reform changed, they obtained the area that the families now live on.
HOW IT’S GOING:
Shashe is the beating heart of ZIMSOFF, the Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum, a growing movement representing more than 19,000 smallholder farmers. ZIMSOFF conducts farmer to farmer training in agroecology, water harvesting and seed sovereignty, as well as organising food festivals, seed swaps and running an agroecology school.
Ceremonies and rituals have been central to Shashe and ZIMSOFF’s approach to engaging communities with the land and with farming, providing a spiritual and ancestral connection to the fundamental activity of food production. Since the initial We Feed the World exhibition, which featured photos of Shashe’s Matatenda harvest festival, there has been significant re-emergence and re-adoption of ceremonies and rituals out of Shashe into the surrounding areas – breathing life back into the communities and the fields. The Matatenda is one of the four main festivities that mark the agricultural calendar in Zimbabwe. Nelson Mudzingwa, National Coordinator of ZIMSOFF says, “connecting to past experiences and practices such as rituals and ceremonies guarantees improved communication and relations between the living and the spiritual world”.