Tag: Agroecology

madeline-hughes-data (1)Who wouldn’t agree? 2017 was a year of mind-blowing events.

We won’t even try to address the politics here. Instead we’ll take a look at a (heretofore) safe subject: The weather. Specifically, what several natural disasters meant for our food supply.

In February, ongoing drought in Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia resulted in famine so severe the U.N.’s Under Secretary General described it as “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.”

In March, Cyclone Debbie ravaged Queensland, Australia and caused unprecedented losses for vegetable, sugar and horticultural farmers.

April’s monsoon rains in Sri Lanka created the worst floods in decades, compromised up to fifty percent of agricultural land and left nearly a million people food-insecure. (This, by the way, followed the country’s worst drought in forty years.)

In August, more epic flooding in Southeast Asia created severe food shortages and polluted the water supply for 16 million people across Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, costing the United States US$200 million in agricultural losses.

September’s Hurricane Irma damaged up to 90 percent of agricultural lands in the Caribbean, Cuba and the Florida peninsula and Hurricane Maria delivered the same devastation in Puerto Rico.

October brought historic wildfires: Northern California wine country suffered US$3 billion in damages and the fire ruined the livelihoods ofseasonal farm workers.

And, as we write this in December, the largest wildfire in California’s history rages in the biggest avocado and lemon-producing region in the U.S. The agricultural losses are yet to be calculated.

Catastrophic weather events change the DNA of the areas impacted in ways that we may never be able to fully compute. Yes, many of these areas will bounce back. But they will bounce back differently than they were before.

In this era of climate change, can we predict or control what that “different” will be? How do we protect our food supply from future catastrophic weather events? And, afterwards, how can our farms and farmers recover well enough to feed us again?

There is a great source of hope in traditional seed: Because, more than GMOs or hybrid seeds, naturally adapted seed has the best chance of surviving weather disasters to feed us in the future.

Here’s how Vandana Shiva describes it:

Extreme weather/Seed Play ButtonIn addition, organic, biodiverse agriculture that respects the integrity of the soil and natural water systems can also prevent and mitigate extreme weather damage.

Permaculture, biodynamics, agroecology—any regenerative agricultural system that works with nature’s processes—will invariably fare better in drought conditions, recover better after fire or freeze and absorb water better when flooding occurs.

It’s on this hopeful note that we look forward to the New Year. In concert with Mother Earth, we have the tools to restore, to adapt, to feed the world and to thrive.

It all begins by showing some love for the seed.

We wish you all the very best for 2018!

Biodiversity Climate Change Featured News Food Security News Organic Seed Seed Freedom Soil

Precious and Kale
Meet Precious Phiri who spends her days teaching farmers in Zimbabwe how to mitigate climate change.
 
Specifically, she instructs them in holistic land management, a method that rejuvenates depleted water and degraded soil while drawing climate-changing C02 out of the atmosphere.
 
Originally trained by the Savory Institute, the enthusiastic Ms. Phiri explains that a cornerstone of holistic management is that eco-systems without animals create ecological imbalance. Grasslands, for example, deteriorate when the food chain that keeps them alive is disturbed. Deprived of a symbiotic relationship with ruminants, grass dies and then soil dies. And, in the process, climate-disrupting carbon discharges into the atmosphere.
 
It’s simple but not obvious: Ecosystems need both fauna and flora to thrive. Think of the oceans without whales or Yellowstone National Park without wolves. It’s the great web of life.
 
The phenomenon, sometimes described as a “trophic cascade,” is a biological process that flows between every part of the food chain.
 
Here Precious explains it: 
Precious Phiri Play Button
Here’s another obvious but often-overlooked fact: Healthy humans come from healthy food that originates in healthy soil. And there is no way to support this synergy between our health and the biosphere in an industrial food system: Big Ag and Big Food disrupts precious water cycles, destroys biodiversity, pummels the biosphere with toxic pesticides, and imprisons innocent animals that should be on the land. This isn’t mere sentiment; it’s actually climate science.
 
In a regenerative world, it’s OK to eat meat, but if you’re going to do so, it’s imperative to transition to organic, grass-fed and free-range–and not in the quantities Big Ag and Big Food would have you do. Any other way and we are contributing to global warming, impacting our health and, by the way, engaging significantly in animal cruelty. Of course it’s more than OK to be vegan or vegetarian but, ecologically speaking, there is also an argument for conscious meat eating.
 
Vandana Shiva is vegetarian and also a founding member of Regeneration International, an organization that promotes and researches this stuff. Here’s a clip of her talking about the animals at her Navdanya farm.
Cover for Vimeo 11.15.16
And here are some books to read if you’d like to know more:
 
 
It’s a whole new world of hope for the environment, the climate and our own health. Perhaps the most hopeful story ever that too few people have heard.
 
P.S: About progress on our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story: We’ve just completed laying in additional dialogue, now we’re working on music and B-Roll. Onwards we go!
 
Please contribute to this next phase of our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story here: Every bit helps to get the film completed (and into your hands) sooner rather than later!

Agroecology Biodiversity Climate Change Climate Change Climate Change Earth Democracy Featured News India Industrial Agribusiness Industrial Agribusiness Interconnectedness Navdanya Organic Regeneration International Soil Vandana Shiva

Soil Not Oil banner
“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” Vandana Shiva
 
Join us on Thursday July 21st when local groups will come together in Ojai to support both the Soil Not Oil International Campaign and the upcoming second annual Soil Not Oil Conference with an evening gathering of film and discussion. Camilla will be there sharing new excerpts from The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, and there will be other short films on soils and carbon farming.
 
An Evening Gathering to Support
The 2nd Annual Soil Not Oil Conference
Thursday July 21, 7.30PM
At The Farmer and The Cook, 339 W. El Roblar, Ojai, CA 93023
THIS IS A FREE EVENT
 
Our advisory board member Steve Sprinkel will be there, so will Margie Bushman & Wes Roe of Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, David White from Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Conor Love Jones of East End Eden Farm
 
Why are we supporting Soil Not Oil?
 
In 2015 the first Soil Not Oil Conference was held in Northern California in solidarity with the Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva Campaigns launched by Dr. Shiva, who was one of the first to make the connection between climate change and the disastrous soil practices of industrial agriculture.
 
Because our lives are entirely dependent on the health of our soils, Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva advocate for the care and regeneration of soils worldwide. These campaigns and the Soil Not Oil Coalition call for the extensive restructuring of land management practices, especially in agriculture.
 
Permaculture, agroecology and all regenerative agriculture practices are key to combating climate change, restoring water cycles, stopping ocean acidification, re-establishing biodiversity, improving food production, and revitalizing local economies across the planet.
 
What’s not to like?
 
As we face the possibility of only four more years of water in our valley, we know that rapidly accelerating human-caused climate change is an imminent global threat, including to us in Ojai. One clear thing to do is reverse our engagement in the fossil fuel food system, which not only pollutes ecosystems but is a huge driver of climate change. 
 
The Soil Not Oil Coalition’s call for integrated action to restore global soil quality is one of the key things we must do to ensure a safe and healthy world for generations to come. Here’s a little known fact: Just the first meter of soil contains as much carbon as the entire atmosphere, and there’s potential to soak up much more.
 
For more information on this event, please contact Margie.
 
See you at F&C,
 
Camilla Becket
Jim Becket
Jim Whitney

Agroecology Climate Change Monsanto Organic Regeneration International Uncategorized Vandana Shiva

MVI_9671 In Car 3

Since we returned from filming at the People’s Climate March in September, we’ve been tracking Vandana Shiva’s schedule from then until now.

Holy Moly: She’s visited upward of fourteen cities in North America and made multiple appearances to capacity crowds. We caught up with her in Canada (for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (thank you Beyond Pesticides for supporting our trip), in Los Angeles with a hip crowd at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, and most recently in San Francisco at the Earth at Risk Conference produced by the radical and feisty Fertile Ground Institute.

The crowds that Vandana attracts are diverse. But they are unified in their commitment to a just and ecologically sustainable world. Vandana talks about this vision–what she calls Earth Democracy–in this short clip: The Seattle reference points to the 1992 WTO meetings, where Dr. Shiva and others spoke out about the spreading power of multinational corporations–not only in America but all over the globe.

What better time to imagine a more just and desirable world than during the Holiday Season as we look forward to a New Year? In the past three months we’ve felt privileged to be around so many energized individuals dedicated to creating a healthier planet. Judging by these folks, environmental activism is alive and well, life affirming and inspiring. We’d recommend it!

Do we sound like a fan club? No, we’re a film. Hopefully a good one, because this film has an incredible story to tell. Creatively, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva is firmly on track and when we’re not filming we’re reviewing and organizing all our film footage. Editing a video required for submission to foundations and sponsors for funding begins in earnest next month.

The success of the movement for a just and sustainable food system–of which we like to think The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will play a small part–depends on creating and empowering networks for change. For us, in our way, that means relationships and partnerships with others who care about sharing this story. So if you, or anyone you know is interested in collaborating with us–we’re talking website, social media, marketing, editing, even fundraising–get in touch with us here.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous and earth friendly 2015!

P.S: Here’s a three minute video we made about the A-Z of Agroecology Course that we attended while filming and interviewing Vandana in September. Yes, the filming trip made possible by our generous donors! There is a still a LOT to do on this project and you can still make a tax-deductible donation in 2014. Click here for details!

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth Climate Change Earth Democracy Gandhi India Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto Navdanya News Organic Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

This video is about the A-Z of Agroecology and Organic Food Systems that is held for the whole month of September at Vandana Shiva’s Bija Vidyapeeth, Earth University, at Navdanya each year.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

In September 2014, filming for our documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we spent a few weeks with Dr. Shiva in Northern India. She was on her farm, Navdanya, for the annual A-Z of Agroecology Course which takes place from September 1 to September 31 each year. One day we checked in with several of the participants, who share their thoughts about the A-Z Course in this clip.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth India Navdanya

Bullock at Navdanya trough

What does a bullock have to do with The Seeds of Vandana Shiva?

Quite a bit it turns out…

We just spent two weeks with Vandana on her farm in Northern India. While conducting interviews and collecting footage for the film, we also joined a diverse group of students from all over the world–and all over India–there to attend a month long A-Z intensive on agro ecology and organic food systems.

Little wonder cattle are revered in India. On small farms they provide manure for fertilizer, muscle power to till fields, along with milk for the family and to sell to the community. Their dung is also used for fuel and in the construction of buildings. Who needs to buy gas guzzling tractors or toxic chemical inputs when this placid guy can give you so much?

There are so many fascinating things to learn about the web of life and how–with cooperation, not domination–it can sustain us. Though we enjoyed sneaking in to the lectures and talks, we also spent many hours with Vandana herself, exploring a gamut of topics, ranging from her introduction to indigenous spirituality by the tribal women of the Himalayas to her role in the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” protests against the WTO.

Speaking of spirituality, Jim Becket and Jim Whitney just spent several days with her in New York City where they filmed at the Religions of the Earth Conference at Union Theological Seminary and at the People’s Climate March, the largest climate change protest in history. Focused on talks scheduled to take place at the United Nations this week, more than 1,500 organizations took part in the New York demonstrations, with satellite events all over the world.

Since more than 40% of greenhouse gases can be attributed to industrial agriculture, Vandana has been a long time promoter of agro-ecology as a viable antidote. Here’s a clip from a discussion we had with her last week. The treaty she refers to is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Of course we would not have these comments on film without your support! So again, we must thank all of you who contributed to our seed fund campaign. Our filming trip to India was a huge success, and we can’t wait to go through our reams of footage to begin the (long) process of putting together the film. By the way, we also collected seeds, spices, and hand woven cotton stoles while we were in India, which we will distribute, as promised, to our valued donors.

Bija Vidyapeeth Climate Change India Navdanya Vandana Shiva

Zambian Woman With Hoe

We’re getting ready to leave for India!

And we’re thinking about Thank You Gifts for our generous donors. Please expect them towards the end of September, when we get back.

As you know, we are traveling to India to film for our new documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, which tells the remarkable life story of eco activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, how she stood up to the corporate Goliaths of chemical agribusiness, rose to prominence in the environmental movement, and inspired an international movement for change.

You can still make a tax-deductible donation towards production costs for this project!

Our next step is to create a fundraising video to help us secure foundation funding to complete a full-length version of this important film.

Here’s Vandana on Mechanical Science versus Indigenous Knowledge:

Some background: When she was researching her book about women and ecology, Staying Alive (first published in 1989), Vandana began to look at science in a new way. The Neem Tree she mentions in this clip is indigenous to India, and has been used for centuries in Indian medicine and agriculture. In 2000 the European Patent Office revoked a patent on Neem for pesticide use that had been granted to the U.S. based W. R. Grace Corporation, ruling that the patent amounted to bio-piracy. Vandana’s activism was key to the ruling.

As to her own scientific credentials, as a child Vandana was considered a science prodigy, and received important science scholarships throughout her education. She earned her first degree in Particle Physics at the University of Chandigarh, and her PhD in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Before founding her Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, she did interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy at the Indian Institute for Science. There’ll be more on her scientific career in the film!

Again, deep appreciation and thanks to our donors. Don’t forget to select your Thank You Gifts. We’ll be back in touch when we get back from India.

India Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

Indian Women Farmers Front of Card copy

Vandana Shiva is a brilliant scientist and environmental activist at the center of an epic battle over the world’s food system. The fight is between industrial, chemically dependent agriculture (in cahoots with “Big Food”) and ecologically sustainable farming that supports the health of the planet and the wellbeing of all people.

Dr. Shiva is known as Monsanto’s worst nightmare as well as a rock star of the sustainable food movement. But outside of the world of environmental activism, she’s relatively unknown. This despite the fact that she has proven definitively that organic agriculture produces higher yields and greater nutrition at a much lower cost than toxic chemical agriculture.

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will clarify the issues at stake through the lens of Vandana’s extraordinary life story. Today, there is enormous corporate investment in spin to discredit her, with claims that industrial agriculture is not only healthy, but the only viable means for “feeding the world.” However, this inspiring woman’s fight for seed freedom and democracy against seed monopolies and the rule of multinational corporations will tell the true story.

We can still tip the balance in this David vs. Goliath battle before us. With The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we are blessed with a story of Gandhian proportions that we hope will appeal to a broad audience and, importantly, inspire viewers to action.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth India Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

Here’s a clip we made for Vandana’s Earth University–Bija Vidyapeeth–which is located at Navdanya.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva