After a 24 hour long bus journey (touring seemingly the whole of Europe), kept sane(ish!) by inspiring chats with Gerald (organic welsh farmer and activist from GM free Cymru: www.gmfreecymru.org), it is amazing to arrive in Krems, Austria with 400 others from across Europe working towards food sovereignty.
The aim of the conference, as well as to network and share ideas, is to, as one speaker said develop common strategies for food sovereignty across Europe - a challenge, but an achievable one. Over the next few days we will be discussing the obstacles and solutions to food sovereignty in thematic groups, with the aim of drawing up a declaration from the forum - and action plan for getting on with it!
The day started with a crazy but brilliant little play about the dangers of GM seeds and the companies that produce them and the importance of struggling against them, followed by the opening plenary. This included a speaker from Mali (the host country of the first Nyeleni forum) and the passing on to the Austrian hosts of three key symbols of food sovereignty - water, earth and seeds, and speeches from the international delegates (from Africa, Asia, South America and Canada), to recognise the global nature and impact of European food sovereignty. These provided much food for thought - things a lot of us already know (like the hunger, exports and import situation, and the struggle against shell in Nigeria and the need for us in the global north to hold those companies accountable), but need to think about how we include that in our work for sustainable food back here in Manchester.
This afternoon I'm off into the thematic group about markets and trading systems - thinking about Manchester Veg People model and what I can learn for and share about that. People are really interested in MVP and FeedingManchester - and I've already spotted various Spanish, French and Italian co-op/network/land army type examples I need to try and speak to, to download their brains! Anyway best go and eat, so that's all for now - will keep you posted. Helen x