Update from Steve Brescia, Executive Director
We are so pleased to share with you updates on what we are accomplishing together – as well as the amazing opportunities that lie ahead if we continue to invest in and strengthen the power of communities and local organizations to generate and amplify real solutions.
In 2009, we founded Groundswell International as a collaborative network committed to strengthening communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up, drawing on time-tested strategies and a wealth of experienced leadership from Africa, the Americas and Asia. As our 2017 Annual Report highlights, together, we are now supporting over 33,000 women and men family farmers across 10 countries who have become agroecology leaders and catalysts in their communities and organizations.
In some of the most challenging contexts around the world, they are on the front lines of creating viable, local solutions to the global challenges we all face in overcoming poverty and malnutrition, climate change and the erosion of democracy and human rights. These community leaders are strengthening local organizations, farmer-to-farmer networks, and social movements; working hand in hand with consumers to re-create strong local food economies that are being eroded by industrialized agriculture; and engaging as citizens to make sure local government and policies support, rather than undermine, the spread of real alternatives. As a result, this work is positively impacting the lives of over 375,000 people in tangible (more food and income) and intangible (better organization, more hope, stronger voice in community decision-making) ways.
Our Annual Report also includes a look ahead at our new five-year Strategic Framework. By 2022, with your support, we plan to more than double these numbers. But it really isn’t about the numbers. It’s about the inspiring power of the people and local organizations creating real economic, social and environmental alternatives. It’s about the potential of all of us, working together at this challenging moment in history, to create the healthy and just food systems we want locally and globally.
Agroecological alternatives are no longer just a marginal idea. Even international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. are coming to realize that we cannot continue ‘business as usual.’ On April 3-5 in Rome, the FAO organized an important global meeting on “Scaling up Agroecology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” Among the 700 attending, Groundswell was honored to have four staff and partner representatives, from West Africa and Latin America, contributing to the dialogue, and two of our agroecology ‘program innovations’ featured. As plans were discussed about how to ‘scale up’ agroecology across 20 or more countries in the coming years, participants debated vital questions. How will ground-up change relate to governmental support? What are the roles for farmers organizations and agencies like the FAO? How do we collaborate? Will authentic, needed changes get watered down?
One thing is sure: Groundswell, our partners and the women’s and farmers organizations we work with aren’t waiting to find out. We are forging ahead with our vital work. As captured in our Theory of Change, we’ll continue to strengthen farmer-to-farmer movements to generate effective agroecological strategies; consumer and producer alliances to build local markets; and networks of citizens to create supportive policies. As a global collaborative, we’ll continue to invest in and catalyze learning across programs and countries, in order to amplify real alternatives. We’ll continue to work with all allies who seek to create healthier farming and food systems for all people and the planet. We look forward to your continued partnership and support in this journey.