Alexandra Groome is on the coordination team of Regeneration International, a project of the Organic Consumers Association. She launched The Regeneration Hub with Scott Funkhouser during the 2016 Climate Summit in Marrakech, Morocco.
Our food system is broken, and it’s time to fix it. Not only has it failed to ensure abundant and nutritious food for all, it is one of the leading contributors to the climate crisis, responsible for about half of all human-produced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It has destroyed biodiversity above and below-ground at the expense of small-scale farmers who bear the brunt of the impacts of the industrial system, from land grabs and unfair trade agreements to volatile market prices. The industrial model exploits workers, land and animals.
By 2050, we’ll have an additional 2 billion mouths to feed. In March 2017, carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere reached a record breaking, unnerving 405.6 ppm‒ and rising. Levels haven’t been this high for 3.6 million years. We all have a right to healthy food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. With mounting pressure to cool the planet and feed a growing population, something’s got to give.
Small Farmers Cool the Planet and Feed the World
The industrial agriculture model may have failed us, but research reveals that the 570 million small-scale farmers who produce nearly 80-percent of the world’s food on one-quarter of all farmland could sequester more than 100-percent of current global GHG emissions with a shift to widely-available inexpensive regenerative agriculture practices. Many already are adopting or transitioning towards more regenerative practices.
Standing with small farmers strengthens food security, climate stability, biodiversity and traditional knowledge—all of which simply cannot be ensured and preserved without significant consideration and cooperation with those who produce our food.
Introducing Grow Ahead: Crowdfunding for Climate Solutions
On May 2, leading fair trade advocacy organization Fair World Project launched Grow Ahead, a platform to enable individuals and organizations to stand in solidarity with small farmers. With Grow Ahead, individuals can forge intimate links with frontline farmer organizations, directly fund farmer initiatives, and support the global effort to address climate change on the farm.
“Agroecological strategies for combating climate change and feeding hungry communities, such as integrated agroforestry and compost to sequester carbon and boost soil fertility and organic matter, must be a global priority, scaling up and out in coming years. Small-scale farmer organizations have the potential to quickly and effectively implement cost-effective climate-resilient tactics that both feed their communities and cool the planet,” Grow Ahead Director Ryan Zinn explains.
Grow Ahead seeks to overcome the lack of funding and generate support for small farmers by allowing consumers and organizations (like churches, non-profits) to lend, or make a direct donation, to support agroecological solutions and farmer-led trainings in the following focus areas:
- A revolving loan program for farmer-developed resiliency projects, such as agroforestry, soil conservation and yield-boosting compost operations.
- Regional farmer-to-farmer trainings that will facilitate farmers’ ability to share successes and resources. These exchanges will include the creation of written and multimedia resources, encapsulating farmer experiences and learnings, to share with other farmers. Farmer-to-farmer exchanges are the most cost effective and culturally appropriate method for farmer training.
- A farm leader “multiplier” agroecology scholarship program, that will provide scholarships for farm leaders and trainers to attend farmer-centric agroecology schools.