An international day for peasants

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Today is the International Day of Peasants.  Their organization is fighting for a good cause, an important one: “La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.”

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These pictures are from my village, a couple of weeks ago. Many of the small farms around here are no longer doing agriculture. That is typical for Norway. Our numbers of farms was halved between 1990 and 2010. From 96.000 till 46.000 farms. It is the same going on all over the world. Governments and food corporations don’t want the small farms, the family farms with independent farmers. They want bigger and bigger farms, or farm industry. I am not sure that is the right developement. Because the number of starving people and poor people is not reduced.

Norway is only 40 percent self-sufficient in food from agriculture. So I find it timely that the leader of the Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union writes on her blog that this day is important also in Norway. These last pictures are typical Norwegian vegetables from a local Farmers Market last autumn.

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46 thoughts on “An international day for peasants

    1. You are right, Disperser. This is not snowballs, but grass fermented in plastic, to feed the cows or other animals during winter. Very common in Norway. I don’t know the word in english. Before they made hay. Now hay is too hard to produce (much manual work), so hay is just for some horses.

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  1. Beautiful photos. I try to buy local produce as much as possible, but it’s not always possible. On another note, how did the big snowballs get into the open field? It doesn’t look like there are any foot tracks. Very interesting.

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  2. Maybe those winters are too long? Still, those are beautiful crops. It’s a shame to see farmland turned into high density housing. That’s what’s happening here. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Bente.

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    1. There is a discussion about farmland turned into housing (or roads) also here. Some politicians wants to make farmland protected, like some parts of nature. Since it is so valuable for our future, and we have so little (3 % of the country). Thanks for your comment, Anneli.

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      1. I think it’s happening everywhere. The real estate prices would make a few people rich, but the sale of valuable farmland for houses makes the whole country poorer. Good luck with it in your country.

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  3. It is so sad that farms are disappearing. I work with a cross-border group (southern Arizona, US and northern Sonora, Mexico). We helped start about a dozen gardens last year! One is at an orphanage. The people in our area are so very supportive of small gardens. I try to shop as much as possible at our farmers market.

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  4. We live in a commercial dictatorship ruled by the corporate sector and we need to do something about it. As you point out, large farms don’t seem to reduce the number of people starving in the world.

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  5. Very well said Bente, I couldn’t agree with you more. Small farms are disappearing everywhere, but some people are making a stand and producing local food for local people. Sooner or later many of us will have to return to growing and eating local food as oil prices prevent large scale global imports. I think that will be a good thing. Here’s to the “peasants”🙂

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  6. Another casualty of globalisation. A number of apartment buildings around here try to get local farmers to set up stall twice weekly in their gardens so residents can buy directly from them.
    LOVE that first farmland shot! Curious about those snowballs too🙂

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  7. Apart from the global economics that have caused hardship for small farmers there is of course the climate extremes we have had over the past few years that have made life even more problematic. I watched a feature the other day on Horticulture. They were complaining that people were not taking it up as a career, they thought it was hands dirty stuff in the outdoors. Well to my mind it is and that is what it always was. This ‘new’ horticulture they promote is more science and technology and computer controlled sewing, propagating and marketing……the object being to keeping huge glass houses working at maximum productivity…..to my mind that is a factory not a market garden or farm.

    Oh! Great shots as always. Cheers

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  8. Bente, very informative. Couple of days I read something related to farm tourism. in short it mean, encouraging tourist to visit your small farms. I don’t know if its related, but i read in that article this has really sustained small scale farm industry by encouragin people to have a field day at your farms.

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  9. This is a really bad trend to produce the food more and more by industry farms. In my region we have tremendous big fields with monoculture. To buy from local farmers is a way to support their work. Besides their products tastes much better.🙂 Ha en kjempefin kveld!

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  10. I agree about getting your produce from smaller, local farms. I am lucky enough to have a large yard to grow my own veggies.
    I am also curious about the ‘snowballs’ in the second photo! What are they?!? They look like “The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa”.

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  11. A very good cause indeed. I have a friend who is about to move in next door and start to develop a 4 acre field that my landlord currently rents out to someone who keeps horses. The ground will now be cultivated for food production. It’s an exciting project. Beautiful pictures Bente.🙂

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  12. It’s a cause I strongly believe in. It’s good to see more and more people here turning to buying their food locally whenever they can. There seems to be a movement to avoid the nasty stuff offered by the industrial farming. It must be difficult given your climate.

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  13. I know you find my world fascinating and I feel the same about yours🙂 Even though I’m sure I won’t enjoy the cold, there is something beautiful about the Scandinavian landscape

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  14. Lovely photos, Bente. The red farmhouses dotting the snow-covered landscape are very attractive.
    I think people should be getting back to the small farms and encouraging people to grow food in their back yards as a sustainable way of living. My parents always grew their own food as much as possible and my elderly 86 yr old Father continues to do so to this day (in his small yard in the retirement village where he lives). If we spent more time outdoors and gardening, I daresay people would be healthier and happier, let alone reducing the strain on the environment.
    Modern communications technology does not put food in the mouths of the starving. Growing sustainable crops and re-building forests to provide habitat for native wildlife restores the balance of nature which man has thoughtlessly destroyed.

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  15. Thanks for introducing me to La Via Campesina – I had never heard of them before. We buy from local family farmers as much as we possibly can, and absolutely refuse to buy meat raised on factory farms. It’s wonderful to know that in Norway the cows can continue to eat grass in the winter! Your photos of the root vegetables make me want to go start a stew!

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  16. I do agree with you. Governments continue to ignore the small scale farmers. For my country Uganda, that is very common. Actually large foreign companies are now favored. They are portioned large chunks of land at the expense of the poor locals who literally feed the economy. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and Post too. http://echwaluphotography.wordpress.com

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  17. The loss of small farms here is dreadful, too. A bright spot is right in the area where we live, as there are a number of organic farms. They live on the margin, still, but many people have begun to understand the value of local produce and meat, including in New York City, so a hopeful sign.

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  18. It’s really sad that farms are disappearing. In fact in my country (Spain) is the same. In the area where I live, there were many animal farms, and today have been greatly reduced.

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  19. I love the scenic landscapes of your village. it is a shame that commercialism has taken over our food supply. Thank goodness for farm banks that keep each original species of plants for the future of humanity.

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  20. I continue to wonder what happens if the international food chain breaks down. Does that make war inevitable? I believe so, people either will have to be ready to produce locally or take from someone else..

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