The first workshop I attended was actually the one I was helping to facilitate – introducing Reclaim the Fields.
We started with a go round to see why people had came, and learnt of a lot of people attracted to more radical and anti-capitalist ideas.
We then introduced Reclaim the Fields and read the ‘Who We Are’ statement, written at one of the first RTF gatherings:
“We are a group of young peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.
We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.
We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.
In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.
Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.
We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them among young European people. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight. “
We then introduced the history of Reclaim the Fields in the UK, talking about its European roots, why it emerged and what has happened over the last two years.
We then talked about Yorkely Court, an inspiring land squat in the Forest of Dean and people then launched into discussion and questions.
Overall it was a good little session for only an hour. For anyone interested in RTF they can see the UK website here: reclaimthefields.org.uk