Rebuild Local Food Economies: Report from International Small Farmer Movements

End Hunger, Cool the Planet

A panel discussion featuring: 

Rodrigo Lopes of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST)            

Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions (Louisville, KY)

Hilary Martin of Diggers’ Mirth Community Farm (Burlington)

Monday, November 17, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Grace Coolidge Room in the University of Vermont’s Waterman Building (corner of Prospect & College Streets, 5th floor) in Burlington, Vermont. The first 2 speakers are also appearing on Sunday the 16th at 6 pm at Black Sheep Books in Montpelier.

Co-sponsored by:  Institute for Social Ecology, UVM Environmental Program, Toward Freedom, Global Justice Ecology Project, VT American Friends Service Committee

Free of charge

Today’s food and energy crises are demonstrating what small-scale family farmers and rural peoples around the world have been saying for years:  without support for local agriculture everywhere, hunger can grow anywhere. Rodrigo Lopes of the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST) and Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions (based in Kentucky) are touring the US this month, aiming to clarify why this is so. Both groups are part of La Via Campesina, an autonomist, multicultural international movement of peasants, small farmers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth, and agricultural workers. Via Campesina is in the forefront of today’s global mass movements seeking to address the root causes of the current crises. 

This event will include a participatory symbolic drama that evokes the absurdities of factory farms and patented seeds, and the beauty of community-based agriculture and solidarity economies.

About the speakers:

Rodrigo Lopes, long time MST settler from Tapes in southern Brazil, currently administers the National Florestan Fernandes School of Agrarian Reform in Sao Paulo state.  This school is a hub of social movement political education courses and other kinds of peoples’ education, modeling the ideals the MST is promoting for the new society it is building in rural agro-villages across Brazil. The MST or Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil is one of the most powerful social movements in the world, with more than 1.5 million people involved in land occupations, community building, agricultural production and marketing, both private and collective.

Stephen Bartlett is the Coordinator for Education and Advocacy at Agricultural Missions, a rural networking and international solidarity group affiliated with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and the National Council of Churches. He is the founder/coordinator of Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville, is active with the Community Farm Alliance and National Family Farm Coalition, and is a frequent interpreter, translator and facilitator for US and international farmer representatives to Via Campesina, the global alliance of small farmer organizations that has brought the voice of farm activists to actions against the WTO and other global institutions.

Hilary Martin is a member and co-owner of the Diggers’ Mirth Community Farm, located on Burlington’s Intervale. Since 1992, Diggers’ Mirth has farmed just under 10 acres of Intervale land, and has become a mainstay of the Burlington Farmers Market and other venues.

INTERVIEWS: Stephen and Rodrigo are available for interviews; call Stephen at 502 424 3351. Brian Tokar of the Institute for Social Ecology is available to discuss why we are bringing these speakers to Vermont: 802-229-0087.