Racial Legacies - Land of the Oppressed and Dispossessed

Land is true wealth. Who has had access and who has been dispossessed through time falls along racial lines. Historical legacies of resource denial and dispossession ripple into the present - generations of land and wealth accumulation have been denied to people of color and this has deep implications for modern societies and struggles. Jo Guldi will introduce the historic landscape of land access. Janie Hipp will discuss the law and policy frame (and opportunities) of inequality in American land access. Debora Nunes Lino Da Silva will share her experience as an organizer on the ground in Brazil fighting for land rights.


The Global Land Rush: Power, Policy and the Right to Food
Across the Global South, ownership and use of agricultural land is changing hands at an astounding rate.  In many cases, rural and indigenous communities engaged in subsistence or pastoral farming are being pushed out in favor of large-scale investors.  These investors are responding to a variety of global forces: some are producing food commodities or biofuels for the global market, while others are capitalizing on land as an increasingly promising source of financial returns.  Large-scale land transfers are taking place in countries already suffering from acute poverty, food insecurity, and water shortages, and in environments that lack oversight and regulation. Deals often lack transparency, disregard land users’ rights, and are concluded without meaningful consultation with affected communities. This keynote address explores the drivers, contours and human rights impacts of the global rush for agricultural land, highlighting that what is really at stake is the power to decide how and for what purpose land is used, now and into the future, and for whose benefit.  The address also explores the normative and practical connections between access to land and the right to food.  Rather than asking, “How do we feed the world?” Narula asks: “How do we support the capacity of individuals and communities to provide for themselves in a sustainable, nourishing, and just manner? And what is our role in this struggle?”




The New Work of Land Trusts: Ensuring Food System Resiliency

Thousands of acres of land will be changing hands in the next decade, due to aging farmland owners. At the same time, the amount of farmland owned by Black farmers has significantly declined to less than 1 percent and urban communities are looking for mechanisms to protect land used for community gardens and urban farms.  Land Trusts have proven to be an effective mechanism to protect land and prevent land loss in rural, urban and minority communities. Representatives from the Maine Farmland Trusts, Black Family Land Trusts and the Trusts for Public Land will be featured at this workshop. This workshop will be an interactive space for you to learn about the different tools to protect farmland.



Using the Law to Promote Land Access

How hard is it to start an urban farm? Why are young and beginning farmers struggling to find farmland? Join us for an action-oriented workshop on challenges to accessing land in both urban and rural areas. This workshop will focus on the legal and policy tools that have been helpful for expanding land access for farmers, including best practices for local governments promoting urban farming and tools such as leases and conservation easements that can protect and expand rural farmland. We welcome students, farmers, practitioners and enthusiasts to join this workshop!




Urban Agriculture in a Legal Vacuum: the Detroit Frontier

This panel explores the legal frontier created when established guerilla practices gain legitimacy – when new laws and policies need to be adapted and fit over existing economies.  The urban agriculture amendments to Detroit’s zoning ordinance became effective in April 2013 and an urban livestock ordinance is in the final stages of development.  As urban farmers and city officials adjust to and implement these new changes, many novel legal issues and some creative solutions are surfacing.  Current struggles in property acquisition, zoning, and land use policy will be discussed while nuisance and enforcement are examined through the lens of the developing livestock ordinance and the conflicts that persist during its development.  Urban agriculture in Detroit has seen explosive growth over the last decade or more. Regulation has moved at a slower rate. The urban agriculture amendments to Detroit’s zoning ordinance became effective in April 2013 and a comprehensive urban livestock ordinance is in the final stages of development. As urban farmers and city officials endeavor to adjust to and implement these new changes in the midst of an urban ag landscape that has already been in place for years, many novel legal issues and some creative solutions are surfacing. This panel will address several of the unique legal issues raised in “legitimizing” urban agriculture in Detroit. These include in acquisition of land, zoning, nuisance and enforcement policies  


Cuban Agriculture: Transformations and Perspectives

The 1959 Cuban revolution jump started a process of land reform and large-scale industrialization of agriculture, which brought the country to hit world-record production levels by the 1980’s. The economic crisis of the 1990’s fueled a major re-orientation, namely, the proliferation of state-sponsored agro-ecological practices. I present an outline of these transformations and offer an overview of the stances regarding the directions of Cuban agricultural policy and practice under the current context. During Cuba's Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the dramatic reduction of financial and energy resources almost overnight, farm families were challenged to develop a food system capable of feeding themselves and their communities  without the use of petroleum-based inputs. They met that challenge by rediscovering and reinventing the traditional farming practices of their ancestors who modeled their farms based on their observations of the natural world. The Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network connects U.S. and Cuban sustainable agriculture stakeholders for the purpose of sharing information and practices and provide mutual support to one another.


Ecology and Food Technology: A Chemical Clash?

Modern agriculture has made food cheaper and more readily available than it had been for all of human history.  This panel will examine some of the chemical costs at which this convenience comes. Consider the following.  First, given that cattle cultivation occurs primarily on large-scale industrial feed yards--the majority of which are located in the windy, semi-arid Great Plains region--synthetic steroid hormones, antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and other chemicals administered to those cattle end up in the air we breathe.  Second, almost all of the produce we eat is treated with chemical pesticides--but while these toxins prevent bugs from beating us to the punch, they present substantial and sometimes deadly risks to the men and women who labor daily to harvest our food.  Third, genetic engineering has enhanced the traits of common agricultural plant species, but do these crops pose a threat to native ecological systems and indigenous crop varieties, or can they be harnessed to bolster food production and quality in an increasingly hungry world?  Attendees will learn about these issues in turn from an environmental toxicologist who published groundbreaking research last spring; a female farmworker who has learned the peligros de pesticidas first-hand; and an expert in statistics and synthetic biology who grew up on a small, family farm in rural Iowa.


The Restoration of Ancestral Abundance: Integrating Agroecology with Indigenous Knowledge and Practice in (Re)Creating Sustainable Community Food Systems for Hawai‘i

This panel discussion will present a history of pre-contact food and farming systems of Hawaii, colonial dispossession of indigenous Hawaiians from their land and water resources for sugar production, and its ecological and social impacts. The panel will discuss how indigenous scholars in the UH system are working in collaboration with NGOs, indigenous land owners, the philanthropic community and community practitioners to integrate the science of agroecology with traditional ecological knowledge in creating a more socially equitable and ecologically sustainable food system for Hawai‘i.


Land Rights for Native American Tribes

Native Americans have been historically stripped of their inherent rights to their traditional lands. What is perhaps more surprising is that this systematic restriction on Native American land rights persists into current day, and poses lasting challenges for tribes on how to regain sovereignty over their land, and ultimately their food system. Join us for a panel discussion with representatives from Navajo Nation and scholars on Native American land rights for this important conversation.


Land Transition, Succession


The 2 Panelists in this session offer their very different perspectives on land+ farm stewardship and hear testimony of the social and political implications as farmland changes hands. Mary, poet laureate of Iowa, performs her one-woman play about conservative farm families in Iowa confronting market boom, sky-rocking land prices and the pressure for consolidation. Frank, activist+ biodynamic grower,  tells the story of a rebellious farm encampment on a formerly abandoned farm in the forest of Dean. This session will be moderated by Severine v T Fleming who will lay out a framework and typology of the wide range of stakeholders engaged directly in land transition.




After the Incubator: Factors Impeding Land Access along the Path from Farmworker to Proprietor

Who gets to be a "New Farmer"?  What are the structural barriers that condition access to farmland for new land seekers? Interviews and participant observation with beginning farmers in the Central Coast of California reveal context and character of the path to land tenure.  I submit that if farmland access is conditioned by barriers such as land-owner preference and ethnic identity, farm training programs and other entrepreneurial supports  do not address a root obstacle for new entry farmers.  In the least, the case presented should ignite a worthwhile conversation about the social factors that mediate land access.


Food Security and Maya Land Rights: Crafting paths of 'Development with Identity’

The findings of an exploratory study looking at questions of food security and climate in three Maya communities in southern Belize suggests threats to food security as a result of increased challenges in the production of corn associated with climate change and a decline in the production and consumption of traditional foods associated with social, economic and political structures. At the same time it shows important local actions at the individual and collective level that are central to “food security” and reveal the limitations of the concept of food security in its failure to address the broader social, economic and political structures. It also reveals the limitations of conventional development pointing to more appropriate concepts such as food sovereignty and development with identity. This paper reflects on the initial findings of this study in the context of two narratives that are associated with the Maya in Belize, marginalization and resurgence. On the one hand there is a story of marginalization—consecutive poverty reports show a high level of poverty among the Maya. On the other hand there is a story of resurgence that has resulted in among other things, a recent court ruling recognizing indigenous land rights.


The Impossible Case of Sonny Nguyen

Gragasin presents an intimate, first-person narrative recounting her experience researching, scouting, and meeting South Carolina commercial chicken farmer, Vietnamese immigrant Hoagson “Sonny” Nguyen, for the purpose of interviewing him on-camera as the central subject of a documentary film on sharecropping; and her subsequent struggle to find practical and legal ways to protect him from injustice and further discrimination from his corporate employer and local community.




Beyond Recognition

After decades struggling to protect her ancestors’ burial places, now engulfed by San Francisco’s sprawl, a Native woman from a non-federally recognized Ohlone tribe and her allies occupy a sacred site to prevent its desecration. When this life-altering event fails to stop the development, they vow to follow a new path- to establish the first women-led urban Indigenous land trust. Beyond Recognition explores the quest to preserve one’s culture and homeland in a society bent on erasing them.


Soil, Struggle and Justice

This film examines a cooperative of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in the South of Brazil, which struggled for access to land and then transitioned to agroecology. This MST cooperative is demonstrating the possibility of an alternative model of flourishing rural life, which provides thriving livelihoods for farmers, produces high quality and low cost food for the region, and rehabilitates the earth.