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Gathering with Small-Scale Farmers

Recently, we at Iyé hosted a gathering to connect with our local small-scale farmers, to meet each other, eat some good food together, and have some conversations about their challenges, successes, and hopes for the future of our local food system. We talked about improving engagement with communities who aren’t normally part of their customer base - lower income, IBPOC, seniors, or other communities who have been historically marginalized by design. We collectively envisioned what collaborative small scale agriculture could look like, and what it feels like to be part of a society that prioritizes everyone’s right to nutritious, culturally-relevant food.

The threads from this gathering are part of an ongoing, larger conversation, and the following are not conclusive statements, nor do they cover all of the challenges and opportunities we face in our current system. These are meant to be a reflection of what we heard from the farmers who participated on that particular day, and we sincerely welcome additional thoughts, comments, questions, and reflections on these topics. Please reach out to us if you’d like to join the conversation or be involved in designing solutions.

Here are a few of the main conversational themes from that gathering:

  • Community engagement is foundational to keep improving access to locally grown food and supporting small-scale farmers,

    • There’s a need for more reciprocal relations between farmers, indigenous communities, newcomer communities, community members experiencing marginalization, and the lands and waters we reside on

    • Coming together and highlight our differences, strengths and accountability is critical to uplift our spirits, and for voices to be heard, respected and honoured, including the stories of our foods and plant teachers,

  • Sharing is caring (stories, labour, resources, opportunities, relations)

  • Centering food equity by including & uplifting culturally-diverse crops and voices creates healthier communities

  • The embodiment of local foodways are essential to reconnect after the colonization and commodification of food

  • We must trust the healing powers of the land, and share “Herstories” (an alternative narrative to the colonial “histories” that many of us were programmed with)

  • Language resurgence - loss of language is tied to loss of cultural foods and nutrition & a rise in inflammatory disease;

  • Advocating for culturally relevant foods involves:

    • establishing community kitchens for diverse communities;

    • understanding the intersection of local, seasonal eating & imported foods that can’t grow in our climate;

    • prioritizing locally adapted seeds, and

    • respecting nuance & complexity

  • Ancestral foodways are nostalgic, and the experience of eating cultural foods is invigorating to all the senses

These conversations are just the beginning - we also extend the humble invitation to other Small-Scale Farmers to take a few minutes to fill out our Survey for Small-Scale & CSA Farmers if you’re interested in sharing your thoughts and experiences.

If you’re not a small-scale farmer but still want to engage with these ideas, we will be hosting more gatherings and community conversations. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on all the upcoming events.

Our intention is to share the information gleaned from these community conversations and surveys with other local food-based organizations, other small-scale farmers and their networks, organizations (such as the Victoria Urban Food Table) that work to advance sustainable food policy, and relevant government bodies that are involved in decision-making around the future of food. We intend to collect the teachings from our communities, and mobilize to inspire true change and justice for all who have been harmed by the capitalist, globalist food system we are currently witnessing.

Deepest gratitude to all those who came out to the gathering, and to those farmers who have already generously shared their time and energy by filling out the survey!

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