So much was packed into two days of discussion, knowledge sharing and movement building at the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance’s annual Food Sovereignty Convergence in Canberra, and Melbourne Farmers’ Markets (MFM) was so energised by being a part of it.
The need for the food sovereignty movement to work more closely with the original sovereign owners of this country (the preferred term instead of the generic ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’ peoples), when working for change in the food system was one of, if not the key message that participants took away with us. Through storytelling, Ngarigu woman Ellen Mundy and Bunurong author Bruce Pascoe explained to the Convergence that conversations between farmers, landowners and original sovereign owners will take time, and change will be based on forming genuine, mutually respectful relationships. We must work together to heal a lot of the damage done to this country, but transformation and results won’t happen at the pace most white people are accustomed to. Relationships, trust and friendships need to be built up.
Effectively organising and building on Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance’s (AFSA) advocacy for small scale pastured pig and poultry farmers in Victoria was another focus, in the face of the widely condemned Planning for Intensive Animal Industries regulatory changes, and reinforced MFM’s belief that our local food system and culture would go backwards, should these changes be implemented (see our position here). We encourage you to chat with your farmers at our markets and find out if the changes will have any direct or indirect impacts on them.
There was much to be excited about, too! Strategies for getting more chefs cooking with and advocating for Fair Food, and making more of it accessible for chefs reinforced plans we have brewing for 2018. Likewise, a session on creating more supportive distribution networks for farmers to sell their produce has given MFM ideas of how we can improve the support we offer to farmers coming into the city to sell to urban eaters (overnight accommodation!!).
At the other end of the spectrum, we brainstormed getting more people eating and wanting to #jointhelocalfoodrevolution. There’s literal food for thought as we ponder how we can make our farmers’ markets more accessible to more people, and support them on their journey towards eating more Fair Food.
There’s immediate actions we can all take to ensure a fairer food system for all: sign AFSA’s petition to secure the future of free range farming, and shop at your local farmers market! Other changes, such as re-establishing trust and relationship with the people who have cared for and eaten from this land for over 60,000 years, will take time. Melbourne Farmers’ Markets is committed, and proud to be a part of this movement: we hope you’ll continue the journey with us!