For me, winter begins with the annual meeting of the Landworkers' Alliance (LWA) at the end of November. The LWA is a union of farmers, growers, foresters and landbased workers. Their mission is to improve the livelihood of their members and create a better food and land-use system for everyone.
After being so occupied with producing veg through the spring and summer we can reconnect what we do with the wider movement. On the one hand we are just vegetable growers on 2.5 acres in East Devon, but we are also part of a union that links us to over 200 million peasant and small scale landworkers around the world through our connection to La Via Campesina. As members of the LWA we are part of a bigger union that brings solidarity and strength to what we do. We go from being solitary farmers in a field to part of an international community of farmers, growers, woodland workers and fisherfolk from around the world. From being small insignificant voices we become a strong voice with a place at the table alongside the larger lobbying groups.
The current political uncertainty has paved a way for us to join the debate and influence policy. We are now seeing manifestos supporting small scale farmers and using food sovereignty as a framework for farming and the food system. 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 those who produce, process and consume healthy and local food at the heart of our agriculture and food systems, instead of the demands of market and transnational companies.
Being involved with the LWA has inspired us to make training and seed production integral to what we do in the garden. We will be involved in developing a traineeship network helping to bring together market gardening trainers and trainees to exchange knowledge and experience which will enrich the training and give trainees a broader knowledge base.
By being part of the wider community of farmers, growers and woodland workers we are beginning to develop the food systems which are underpinned with the values of food sovereignty.
Together we will make a difference.
Ashley has been running Trill Farm Garden since 2010 with his partner Kate. Ellen is the Senior Grower and Seed Coordinator at Trill Farm Garden.