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Sowing the seeds for a fair, sustainable world 🌻

“People often ask me what one thing I would recommend to restore the relationship between land and people. My answer is almost always, “Plant a garden.” It’s good for the health of the earth and it’s good for the health of people…its power goes far beyond the garden gate - once you develop a relationship with a little patch of earth, it becomes a seed itself.” - Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass.


The above quote from one of my favourite books truly affirms the power of gardens and growing in repairing disconnection and healing the earth. Working with the land and creating growing spaces (even if it’s on your windowsill) is a relatively underrated but absolutely essential part of the solution to the environmental issues we face today.


So this International Women’s Day, I was drawn to the roles and experiences of different genders in growing food and working with the land, and how this relates to reconnecting with nature and each other to cultivate a fairer, more sustainable world.


Women working with the land


Since the introduction of farming (instead of nomadic hunter-gathering) about 12000 years ago (1), women have held vital roles in food cultivation (2, 3). The roles of women in food growing are often not fully recognised, recorded or celebrated. Traditionally we tend to see food production as male-dominated, but women make up at least 43% of global agriculture and this is increasing (4). However women face inequality, particularly when it comes to land rights, pay, decision-making, education and the impacts of climate change (4,5).



In fact, giving women access to the same resources and education as their male counterparts could increase food production by women by 30%, therefore eliminating hunger for 150 million people! (5)


In many communities, women are seen as custodians of the land and ‘seed keepers’. They are essential in passing on ancestral, indigenous stories, seeds, plants and skills whilst building food and seed sovereignty (6, 7).


But what is food and seed sovereignty?


Food sovereignty means that everyone has a right to healthy food produced in ways that are good for people and nature. This often means communities work together to control their local food systems and create a more sustainable approach, instead of big companies controlling everything (8).


Seed sovereignty gives people the right to grow and exchange seeds. Seeds that are grown locally and ecologically help to build biodiversity and are more resilient to climate change (9).


How can we sow the seeds for a better future?


Celebrating diversity and genuinely including people from different backgrounds and communities is essential. Let’s learn from nature; the healthiest, strongest ecosystems are those that are full of diversity, and if something went missing the whole ecosystem would suffer. Involving everyone in food systems - whether it’s growing, making decisions or eating - will strengthen resilience, community and the power of food growing as part of solutions.


So let’s make the world a better place by sowing the seeds of hope, celebration and justice, starting with your own plants or patch of earth!


Thanks for reading,

Holly

AFC South West Programme Coordinator






















References

Photos of Holly are credited to Tom Martin at Eve's Hill Veg Co.


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