WHO ARE WE at Nyeleni Polska?
Our initiative was founded in 2016 in Cluj during the Nyeleni Europe Forum. We collaborate since then internationally with Nyeleni Europe, La Via Campesina, European Coordination Via Campesina, Schola Campesina and regional farmers’ unions, farmers and civil society organisations, such as food cooperatives and environmental NGOs.
OUR MISSION AND GOALS
Our mission at Nyeleni Polska is to engage rural and urban citizens in common work for the right to life-giving food based on Earth care and social justice.
Over 50% of Europe’s small-scale and peasant farms are located in three countries: Poland, Romania and Italy. Worldwide, 70% of food consumed by people is produced by small-scale and family farms, with only 30% of resources used by global agricultural production. Yet the number of small agroecological farms is declining rapidly, calling for substantial rethinking of our food system as we also need to adapt to climate change.
We are working to reverse this trend and regenerate traditional, localised low-input farming practices and wide access to healthy, sustainably-produced and adequately priced food, empower farming communities economically and strengthen the emergence of the new generation of agroecological farms. We support and develop new pathways for learning sustainable food production and the transmission of the experiential, practical knowledge and skills of farming for future generations.
We are using the frameworks of Food Sovereignty and Agroecology as defined by social movements and farmers’ organizations around the globe not to maintain the status quo: we are using them as a vision for social transformation and social change necessary for our times.
“Agroecology is a way of life. It is seeing the social, not only the productive function of the Earth. It is not only a production of small scale – it is seeing nature as a living being, not a commodity”
Salete Carolo, Brazil
6 PILLARS OF FOOD SOVEREIGNTY:
Nyeleni Polska builds its work on the six defining principles, developed by the international Food Sovereignty movement. Food sovereignty:
- Focuses on food for people: The right to food which is healthy and culturally appropriate is the basic legal demand underpinning food sovereignty. Food is not simply another commodity to be traded or speculated on for profit.
- Values food providers: Food sovereignty asserts food providers’ right to live and work in dignity.
- Localises food systems: Food must be seen primarily as sustenance for the community and only secondarily as something to be traded. Under food sovereignty, local and regional provision takes precedence over supplying distant markets, and export-orientated agriculture is rejected.
- Puts control locally: Food sovereignty places control over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations on local food providers and respects their rights.
- Builds knowledge and skills: Food sovereignty calls for appropriate research systems to support the development of agricultural knowledge and skills.
- Works with nature: Food sovereignty requires production and distribution systems that protect natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding energy-intensive industrial methods that damage the environment and the health of those that inhabit it.
We work on five strategic goals:
1) to build into public debate key concepts and strategies of Food Sovereignty by promoting and protecting the heritage of family farming, agroecological production and local food systems
2) to enable small and family farms access to agricultural and food markets through the promotion of Direct Sale of farm produce.
3) to create a mass movement for Food Sovereignty in Poland and its strong representation.
4) to create spaces for dialogue and learning of our members through the online platform and live gatherings
5) to develop international collaboration for Food Sovereignty
INNOVATING APPROACH TO FOOD AND FARMING
Nyeleni Polska introduced Food Sovereignty and Agroecology into public debate in Poland at over 20 nationwide events. We have also organized ourselves the 1st Polish Food Sovereignty Forum (4 days, Jan 2018) two Intergenerational Farmers gatherings (2017 and 2018) for total over 250 participants from circa 70 organizations, rural associations or unions. Our delegates represented Poland at international conferences and trainings organized by La Via Campesina, Schola Campesina, CSA network, Degrowth Movement. Since our inception in 2016, we have grown very dynamically.
PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORK
Nyeleni Polska has developed a multi-category membership system and various pathways of engagement for our members, who are a wide spectrum or organizations, civil initiatives, cooperatives and individuals implementing and allied with Food Sovereignty framework in both rural and urban locations.
We collaborate most closely in Poland with Ecological Folk Highschool (Organic Farming Course; educational farm) and with the Institute of Global Responsibility.
Our long-term partners are also included EKOLAND Organic Farmers and the Strefa Zieleni Foundation and most recently – the State National Seed Bank and Horticulture Institute. We contribute to the Climate Movement and the Living Soil Coalition, which is the political lobbying arm for our network.
Our members have trained with Schola Campesina, URGENCI, the BOND project and Degrowth Movement. Between 2016-2018 we have also supported the relationship between EKOLAND Organic Farmers to LVC.
We have a close working relationship with farmers’ organizations in Romania (Eco Ruralis) and England (Landworkers’ Alliance) with whom we collaborate and exchange knowledge.
WHAT DO WE DO – OUR ACTIVITIES
Our work is varied and wide-reaching. The range of our activities for 2016-2018 is listed on our website: https://nyeleni.pl/en/english-nyeleni-polska-building-the-movement-for-food-sovereignty-in-eastern-europe/.
We have developed 5 main types of activities for movement building:
- live, inter-generational gatherings for farmers and allied social movement actors aimed at knowledge exchange and networking
- nurturing long-term solidarity partnerships nationwide and internationally
- educational workshops and e-learning platforms (website, fb, educational webinar series, films, publications)
- live appearances and lectures at nationwide events
- advocacy and political lobbying activities, protests
In 2018 we collaborated on Agro-Edu-Lab project, introducing Agroecology to students in formal agriculture schools. As a result, in 2019 the pilot programme coordinated by Dobrze Cooperative will be developed in 60 Schools nationwide.
We popularize in public debate the concepts of Food Sovereignty and Agroecology. In 2018 we organized the 1st (4-day) Polish Forum for Food Sovereignty in Warsaw with over 120 representatives from CS organizations. The 2nd FS Forum is planned for January 2020. We also hosted two Inter-generational Farmers’ Gathering for Food Sovereignty and Agroecology for circa 60 Polish farmers-activists.
In 2019-2020 we will be piloting an international training for our activists-leaders and educators, Agro-Perma-Lab, aimed at strengthening political education across member organisations and developing a shared vision of Agroecology for Poland. The project is funded by LUSH Agroecology & Permaculture Fund. We support development of new pathways for political education about food and farming system and social transformation, and the transmission of the experiential, practical knowledge in Agroecology between generations of farmers.
Whilst our activities are based predominantly on a voluntary work, we have also organized bottom-up fundraising and managed larger grants channelled through other organizations.
The organizations that collaborated with us and entrusted us with grants or funded our activities and supported our appearances at pubic events included:
Institute of Global Responsibility, Ecological Folk Highschool, Warsaw Cooperative, Botanical Garden at Warsaw University, National Seed Bank, Living Soil Coalition and Heinrich Boll Foundation, Slow Food Movement, Women’s Congress, etc..
Our initiative is informal, bottom-up and democratically-governed. Our values are mutual respect, diversity, solidarity and collaboration, not competition. For our internal processes we use democratic consensus-based decision-making systems.
We have a structure of a rotating Coordinators’ Group (4 people), Steering Collective (20 people), Members (circa 50 organizations and farms) and Supporters (individual allies, academics etc.). Our Collective and the Coordination Committee of 4 meet regularly online and in person to strategize. We have been working in the social movement formula, rather than an NGO model from the start.
The current coordinators of Nyeleni Polska are
Joanna Bojczewska, Polish
Wojtek Mejor, Polish (treasurer)
Łukasz Ńowak, Polish
Marta Łukowska, Polish