We have settled back into the farm since attending the 2019 NFU (National Farmers Union) Youth Convergence and want to share some short reflections. It was an incredibly rich and inspiring experience and has us fired up to participate more fully in the grassroots organizing that characterizes the NFU!
Over 70 youth attended the convergence (coordinated largely by NFU youth volunteers) from provinces across Canada (Turtle Island) and from Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. Participants voted on the four topics that became the focus of the 3.5 day convergence:
1- Decolonizing our food system and Indigenous solidarity
2- Climate change mitigation and adaptation
3- Understanding and reimagining the political economy of agriculture
4 - Farm business planning models
‘Free time’ was also given to farmer-to-farmer discussions where participants facilitated conversations around topics ranging from cut flowers to farmer mental health and land owner - employee relationships. The initiative that sprung up from participants to lead discussions and sharing circles was really a testament to the creative space that was created by the organizers and facilitators as well as to the power of the youth voice!
I (ilana) attended as a participant while Paul spent many hours in discussions with the organizing team and facilitated the opening and closing of the convergence as well as a creative, interactive segment of the climate change discussions.
Some of our main take aways from the convergence include:
- The potential of The Green New Deal as a political framework for addressing climate change and a platform for farmers to give voice to their value.
- By working with global collectives of small farmers, peasant farmers, Indigenous peoples, we build stronger social movements with greater potential for driving change (e.g., La Via Campesina, of which NFU is a member organization).
- The importance of youth and the youth voice in farming, the need for land access, access to capital and access to best practices research (especially related to climate change mitigation strategies)
- The need for, and ability of, farmers to create a radical shift in our own representation, challenging the hegemony of a neoliberal ,capitalist, economic structure by clearly articulating our values and our value (the true worth of what we produce and the resulting ecological services).
Some questions that we as young farmers encourage you, other farmers, and policy makers to reflect on are:
- Why are we supporting youth/young farmers?
- How are we supporting youth/young farmers?
- Where are the youth/young farmers?
Aric McBay (farmer, organizer, and author) created a short video to thank those that supported this convergence that does an excellent job expressing the overwhelming sentiments of engagement, solidarity and joy among the youth participants. You can view at the link below:
Thanks to our local; NFU-O Grey for supporting us in going to the largest ever NFU youth convergence! And thanks to all the other young farmers that attended the convergence and shared their knowledge, experiences and love! <3