Vandana Shiva opened the We Feed the World exhibition at the Bargehouse on London’s Southbank on Thursday 11thOctober, in celebration of smallholder farmers and fisherfolk everywhere.
Over 4000 people visited in the first weekend to see over 300 images beautifully displayed across four floors, and to hear talks from well-known speakers including US activist, Anna Lappe, and Riverford founder, Guy Singh-Watson.
Delivering a powerful ten-minute speech in support of small-scale farmers and against corporations, Indian academic and activist, Dr Vandana Shiva, spoke about the need for everybody to support a fairer a food system for all.
“Food is the continuum of our life and our freedom; there’s only one place where that nourishment will come” she told the crowd. “The care, love and passion of our small farmers; it is not a luxury for us to defend them; it’s an imperative. Food is not a product; it is life itself”.
Vandana praised the efforts of The Gaia Foundation team in bringing together the We Feed the World exhibition over the last three and half years, saying that she had come to believe that:
“Agriculture is the one of the most creative acts that human beings can be engaged in. And the fact that the creativity of the photographers and the creativity of the small farmers has come together in this exhibition makes for a very powerful story.”
Among the 300 guests enjoying the opening evening, which was catered for by Petersham Nurseries, was Theo Sowa – Head of the African Women’s Development Fund – and Landworker’s Aliiance spokesperson, Jyoti Fernandez. Both spoke passionately about the critical need to change legislation and support activists who are at the forefront of this work.
They were joined by Gaia Director, Liz Hosken, Project Director, Francesca Price, Curator, Cheryl Newman, Divine Chocolate’s Sophi Tranchell, Café Direct’s John Steel, Yeo Valley’s Tim and Sarah Mead and Riverford founder, Guy Singh-Watson. We were thrilled that so many of the farmers and photographers who worked on the project were also with us to celebrate its unveiling.
Photographer, Sophie Gerrard, who spent time photographing a crofting community on the Isles of Uist in Scotland said how moved she was to get to know the family and their way of life. Like many of the photographers who joined us for the opening of the exhibition, Sophie stayed with us in London for the opening weekend, marking the beginning of a ten-day programme of talks and events in collaboration with groups such as Sustain, the Landworkers Alliance and the Organic Research Centre.
On Friday 12thOctober Sophie Gerrard was a panellist alongside John Vidal and Greenhouse PR asking what role the media have in telling the story of agroecology. Other popular talks included Carnivore, Vegetarian or Vegan; What’s Best for Me and the Planet,with eco-chef, Tom Hunt, farmer, Gerald Miles and fashion stylist, Tallulah Harlech and Can Business Help Lead the Food Revolution which was chaired by the Guardian’s John Vidal and featured Riverford Founder, Guy Watson.
Following the Good Food, Good Farming March on Sunday, US activist and writer, Anna Lappe, delivered a powerful speech in support of smallholder farms “who still produce as much as 70 percent of the world’s food and are stewards of three quarters of the world’s seed biodiversity.” She told the audience of 150 people.
“We don’t have to guess where the industrial path, if pursued globally, would take us. We don’t have to imagine that future; in the United States where I come from, we’re living it. In the United States, industrial agriculture and processed diets have dominated for the last half a century, we’re experiencing record rates of diet-related illnesses and water and air pollution driven by petrochemicals and synthetic fertilizer.”
More talks continue over the course of this weekend. Highlights include exploring the importance of Fairtrade, and a day of talks featuring farmers and activists from around the world who are defending their lands against mining. Please see the programme here for more information.
We Feed the World runs at the Bargehouse in London until Sunday 21stOctober. www.wefeedtheworld.org
Photographs featured courtesy of Tom Groves Photography.