Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What will we tell our grandchildren?

 Percolator Gallery: 134 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, Brisbane -

On Sunday I was delighted to be celebrating World Environment Day with a wonderful gathering of visitors to the Gardens... many whom had already booked to come along (it was a free event - but RSVP's are so helpful!) and some who we were pleased just found us on the day! I will be doing a separate post on this but in keeping with a number of stories shared on Sunday at Tea and Seed Stories I am including this reflection below from Uta Heidelauf,  one of the artists I am exhibiting with next week in Brisbane at Percolator Gallery. Please click on OPENING NIGHT OF UPCOMING SHOW to read about this and we'd love to see you there if you're in town!
After hearing my talk on the 'homage to the seed' project at a meeting of BADco-op - an artist's initiative actually founded by Uta in Brisbane several years ago - she wrote and shared this story;

"I grew up in Germany in a rural setting where everything was shared,  food was grown in one's backyard and when we were hungry as kids we just had to climb a tree and pick an apple, or a pear or pull a carrot from Oma's veggie patch. I spent much time in the garden with family friends and neighbours planting, harvesting, preserving and cellaring. It was an amazing way to grow up and to be so connected to our surroundings.
I used to go in the forest with my grandmother with our cane baskets (I had a little one) collecting wild mushrooms, rasperries, blueberries and strawberries and the flavour in the food was to die for in those days. (You could still drink the clear cool water in all brooks and springs...even the water had flavour!)
backyard raspberries
I often think about the wholesome way that I was nurtured as a child 
and it has left me with priceless memories that I will cherished eternally.
 Such a gift."

Uta's story speaks to a time that is passing ...our grandparents have, in many cases, instilled these wonderful lessons and experiences of growing things, sharing at the table, foraging for food perhaps...certainly the seed story circles touched on these memories.
Nostalgia for the past CAN have a profoundly enervating aspect to it when the moment of reckoning
pushes us to consider how to bring to life what's been missing. As everyone learns at some point in their life ... nostalgia is only deadening when we close off from what it is trying to show us!  And that is precisely what do we value? - what matters most to us? and waht can we do that is creative about addressing what's missing? Hence my question as title for this post - What do we want to tell our grandchildren - all those born long after us?

Now is a good time to introduce a local initiative that is gaining such broad respect here in Queensland that it has started up in 3 other states. At the heart of this venture is an outstandingly successful (and growing in popularity) answer to the question about food and the future. This is one you would want to tell your grandchildren.

FOOD-CONNECT - go to and read ABOUT US just for starters.

What's in the box this week?Meet our fabulous farmers

Food Connect is an award winning social business that works in collaboration with brilliant local farmers around Brisbane to deliver the best food in the world efficiently, affordably and equitably. Our unique distribution system is flexible, convenient and most of all healthy for you and your community. We are passionate about changing the way food is grown and distributed in this and any country where exploitation of farmers and customers is rampant.
Food Connect’s aim is to supply local, sustainably produced food to the community in South East Queensland. We are creating a new, more equitable way of distributing local produce in a socially responsible way. Our delicious seasonal produce comes from local farmers living within a five hour radius of Brisbane who are paid a fair price for their hard work and who are encouraged to farm using the most sustainable methods possible. Our subscribers know where their food comes from and are invited to see for themselves on regular farm tours. 

When reading the Food Connect blog today I noticed this timely event
coming up in Brisbane on June 27th-28th they are organising:


Download the flyer here

 * I went to the Via Campesina website to read more about this global 

movement as they are featured on the flyer above. The following posts 

were found at

La Via Campesina welcomes UN preliminary recognition of peasant's rightsPDFPrintE-mail
FRIDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 2010 17:23
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(Jakarta, February 12, 2010) The international peasant's movement La Via Campesina welcomes the preliminary UN recognition of the role and rights of peasants and small farmers in the world. The Fourth Session of the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council, who met in Geneva on 25-29 January 2010 adopted the report of the Advisory Committee titled "Preliminary study on discrimination in the context of the right to food" (A/HRC/13/32). This report describes the marginalisation of peasants, rural women and traditional fishing, hunting, and herding communities. It also explains the work of La Via Campesina in establishing the rights of peasants and fully adopts La Via Campesina’s Declaration of Rights of Peasants, including it in the report's annexes.
According to Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of Via Campesina who addressed the Committee in Geneva on January 27, “It is a very important step for the defence of our rights. We now urge all the member countries to adopt this declaration during the March session of the UN Human Rights Council. We are asking for a new legal framework with clear standards to recognise the basic rights of more than 2,2 billion peasants in the world”.
Marginalisation, exclusion and repression of peasants and small farmers has been going on for centuries, and La Via Campesina has been struggling for the recognition of the rights of peasant – men and women- since 2002. In this prossess, Henry Saragih aalso ddressed the UN General Assembly in April 2009 in New York at the dialogue on the Global Food Crisis and the Right to Food.
However, the breakout of the food crisis in 2007-2008 revealed to all, including policy makers, governments and institutions, the severity of the situation. This crisis raised the number of undernourished people worldwide to more than one billion, among which 80% live in rural areas (smallholder farmers, landless, and agricultural workers...). Meanwhile profit makers in the sector of food production have been increasing their benefits. While the rhetoric of transnational corporations seems convincing (when they say that they can feed the world), the stark food shortages and speculation only confirm that it is misleading.
Therefore the recognition and the defence of peasant's rights is an unavoidable condition if we want to feed the world and combat hunger and poverty.
In August 2008, the Advisory Committee recognised the positive role of peasants and small farmers in the world food system and began to look very carefully on the nature of the food situation, the role and rights of peasants, and the types of discriminations, obligations, and good practices. As a result, the current report recognises that many small farmers cannot feed themselves and their communities because they are losing control over their productive resources, such as land, water and seeds. Those resources are being increasingly controlled by agrochemical giants and transnational food producers.
La Via Campesina is now calling all the UN member states to support this new resolution at the March session of the UN Human Rights Council. The movement also asks all its members and allies to raise awareness among their governments on the importance of adopting this resolution in order to combat hunger and bring social justice worldwide.

To read more on this go to and click on actions and events - left
sidebar - then find Saturday, 17th april post. Sorry I was not able to link for you! However
there is much to see if you visit this site so I can recommend you click on the highlighted
website above.

Below I have included the program of workshops for a critical meeting that was held in
Austria in late March this year. At the conclusion is the declaration that was the outcome
of this meeting. My reason for posting so much information here is to demonstrate the
sense of emergency at this time...

Sowing the Future – Harvesting Diversity!PDFPrintE-mail
TUESDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2010 16:35
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5th Meeting of the European Seed Network 'Let's liberate diversity!'
Volkshaus, Graz, Austria, 25-27 March 2010
The year 2010 will be decisive in the debate about intellectual property rights concerning seeds. The EU wants to pass seed legislation that is uniform throughout Europe. In the future, will just industrial varieties be available on the seed market while regional and farmers varieties will be found only in museums and show gardens? All signs indicate that seed corporations are using the revision of the seed law to expand their power further. The EU directive on conservation varieties and non-industrial varieties complicates or forbids the propagation of old varieties due to geographic and quantitative restrictions. 
In the last few years, seed initiatives in many European countries have teamed up and organized across borders under the banner of “Let's liberate diversity!”. They are defending farmers' rights to sow seeds from their own harvest, to breed them and to pass them on. European seed initiatives from ten countries have prepared counterproposals and want to vote on them together in Graz as well as make connections in the European-wide network of resistance.
This year's meeting is taking place in Austria in order to strengthen cooperation with Eastern European countries, yet everyone who is interested in the subject and who would like to become active is invited.
The 5th meeting will be hosted by four Austrian associations: Arche Noah, ÖBV – Via Campesina Austria, Longo maï and MaiMun. Simultaneous translation will be available in German, English, French and Spanish. On Friday, 26 March 2010, we are organizing a Market of Diversity with a seed exchange, presentations, exhibitions, diverse products for sale, workshops, music and organic food. The topic of seeds will be publicized through “Sowing the future” actions that will make effective use of the media.


Workshop 1 Revision of the EU-seed legislation framework: Exchange of experiences concerning the European directive on conservation varieties, cultivation bans, the common positioning paper of the network. What actions will we take towards national and European authorities? The FAO? The international contract ITPGR-FA? (Guy Kastler, RSP, F)
Workshop 2 Seeds in eastern Europe: Reports from Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, ... How is the crop diversity that still exists threatened? Where is farm seed being used and who is defending it? (Csilla Kiss, Protect the Future, H)
Workshop 3 Seeds and migration. Diversity for everyone? Immigrants and refugees were often able to preserve their favourite varieties to a new land. Without them, our everyday meals would be monotonous and bland. Come and bring experiences, examples and ideas about how we can reproduce seeds and open-mindedness collectively. (Florian Walter, Kathrin Schickengruber, A)

Workshop 4 Actions and campaigns: What is being done in different countries as a reaction to the revision of the European seed legislation? What are we doing together? The campaign “Sowing future – harvesting diversity” will be introduced. (Jürgen Holzapfel, European Civic Forum, D)
Workshop 5 Patent laws and alternatives: Seed patents and conservation of varieties are increasingly restricting farmers' rights and breeders' work. In this workshop, we will provide information about current patent rights cases and point out alternatives (Eva Gelinsky, IG-Saatgut, Pro Specie Rara, CH; Gebhard Rossmanith, Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, D)
Workshop 6 Livestock breeding: Forced vaccinations, maximum productivity and the limitation to only a few selection criteria and breeds create problems for livestock breeders. How do we want to breed? How can we create a European network of resistance? (Antoine de Ruffray, Longo maï, F)
Workshop 7 Agriculture: Monocultures, the use of large amounts of chemicals and specialisation in only a few industrial varieties and breeds are all destroying natural and cultivated diversity. Which agricultural forms of production preserve biodiversity? (ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria)

13:00 Compagnie MaiMun: Street theatre on the subject of seeds
Lunch at the Market of Diversity
Beginning at 10 am: Market of Diversity and public program in "Augarten": seed exchange, plants from seed savers and farmers, local food, exhibits, additional workshops and information.
Saturday, 27th March
9:00  Closing plenary: How will we carry on? The structure of the European network, the location of the next meeting, evaluations, discussion.

The outcome of this meeting was the following    declaration:

From March 25. to 27, 2010, 160 representatives of the European seed networks gathered in Graz, Austria, for the 5th European Seed Meeting “Let’s Liberate Diversity!”. They included groups that work on the conservation, use and distribution of plant diversity, civil society organizations, gardeners, breeders, and men and woman farmers from over 20 countries. For the first time, the conservation of livestock diversity was discussed in the context of this meeting, since diversity loss is also very advanced within animal husbandry. A declaration on livestock diversity is annexed to this text.
Graz Declaration: Freedom for Diversity 
Each human being has the right to live without hunger and to eat adequately. This human right includes access to productive resources, in particular seeds. 
In the long term, Food Sovereignty can only be achieved through a culturally rich, ecological food production, based on locally-adapted varieties and on the collective care and development of this diversity. 
For thousands of years, people all over the world have been creating livestock and crop diversity. This bio-cultural diversity emerged on our planet as a reciprocal process between human beings and nature, in many localities, through pastoralist grazing and over long periods. The fact that people all over the world have access to it is fundamental for our daily bread and for the food sovereignty of all peoples and communities. This diversity is an elemental part of the human right to food; it must remain a common good, belonging to everyone. 
We defend farmers’ rights to obtain seeds from their own harvests, to breed them and to distribute them. 
Farmers’ Rights are not respected and run the very serious risk of being further curtailed through current revisions of European seed legislation. 
Ten companies already control 67% of the international commercial seed market and are demanding that their intellectual property rights be expanded in order to increase their profits and to impose industry varieties throughout the world. Varieties capable of being re-sown are systematically displaced from the market. But it is not these companies’ varieties that will best feed the world in the future. A diversity of small farming practices is needed, including locally-adapted varieties.
We recall that three-quarters of men and women peasants all over the world produce their own seeds, exchange and sell them. 
Yet European laws seek to relegate these heirloom and regional varieties to a small and controlled niche. 
We demand that patents on plants and animals, their traits and genes, as well as patents on breeding methods be prohibited without exception and that the control of companies on biodiversity be constrained. The continuing plunder of the foundations of world food production must be stopped. A true change can only take place when in Europe a fundamental change in food, trade, and agricultural policies, as well as farmers’ rights, as defined in the UN international seed treaty, are implemented. 
We demand:
the right to obtain seeds from our own harvest, to re-sow, distribute and sell them; 
the promotion of diversity in all regions by supporting conservers and breeders of varieties that can be re-sown; 
the prohibition of genetic modofication technologies in agriculture; 
the prohibition, without exceptions, of patents on plants and animals, their traits and genes, as well as patents on breeding methods; 
a new agrarian policy, which, instead of supporting energy-intensive industrial production and monocultures, promotes biodiverse and ecological production.
These demands are directed toward Member States and the European Institutions. 
The participants of the 5th European Meeting in Graz, March 2010. 
In referring to „Farmers’ Rights“, we include gardeners and all those who in one way or another cultivate plants.

 Conclusion of the IAASTD report (International Assessment of Agriculture, Science and Technology for Development).

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