Community-based solutions to locally-sourced food production systems featuring the revival of indigenous knowledge

Main Article Content

May East
Christopher Mare

Abstract

Gaia Education (GE) - an international NGO with headquarters in Scotland - has been pioneering community-based educational approaches to sustainable design and development. Founded concurrently with the launching of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) 2005-2014, GE has been developing unique curricula and pedagogy drawn from the precedent of the educational experiences of eco-village models around the globe. With a 10-year track record in forty-three countries on five continents, GE programmes are conducted in settings ranging from tribal and traditional communities to intentional eco-communities, from urban slums to universities and R&D centers. GE educational programmes equip students of all ages and cultural backgrounds with the appropriate knowledge, skills, and critical thinking tools necessary to design a society which uses energy and resources with greater efficiency, distributes wealth equitably, centers autonomy within local communities, and makes quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking. Learners become change agents capable of playing active roles in transitioning their existing communities and neighbourhoods to sustainable and regenerative practices, lifestyles and infrastructures.


 


The starting point for this paper is concern about the impactful effects of industrial food systems, based on large-scale, energy and resource-intensive, agribusiness enterprises operating at a global scale. In this context the paper introduces and analyses a series of regional Project-Based learning initiatives taking place in the Global South, developed within the framework of UN Sustainable Development Goals that address the standard three dimensions of sustainability - environment, society, and economy -with culture added as a unifying fourth dimension. These capacity building projects conducted with partners in Bangladesh, Senegal, India and Sicily support communities to transition from the input-intensive agriculture introduced by forces of globalisation to locally-sourced, agroecological food production systems featuring the revival of indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions. In this process, regenerative whole systems design practices developed in the North are introduced to villagers in the South to complement and augment indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions in an effort to achieve food sovereignty and ameliorate the damage done to ecosystems by climate change. The GE model engages local communities in the spirit of participatory action research, working together to find low energy, low cost, creative and innovative solutions to local problems. The GE model uses a holistic, non-reductionist approach to education, weaving together social, ecological, economic, and cultural dynamics to produce a living synthesis that can result in long-term ecosystem and community health and well-being.  


 


The paper concludes by examining how GE programmes create learning environments for villagers in climate-vulnerable regions that foster meaningful, actionable knowledge. This knowledge promotes food sovereignty through the sustainable potential of community-based, locally-sourced food production systems, featuring the linkages of social, ecological, and cultural dynamics.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
East, M., & Mare, C. (2018). Community-based solutions to locally-sourced food production systems featuring the revival of indigenous knowledge. Ecocycles, 4(1), 32-40. https://doi.org/10.19040/ecocycles.v4i1.96
Section
Articles

References

Altieri, M.A. (2004) Linking ecologists and traditional farmers in the search for sustainable agriculture. Fron¬tiers in Ecology and Environment, 2(1), 35-42
DOI 10.1890/1540-9295(2004)002[0035:LEATFI]2.0.CO;2

Altieri, M.A. (2012) The scaling up of agroecology: Spreading the hope for food sovereignty and resiliency. SOCLA’s Rio+20 position paper. Available at
https://foodfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/JA11-The-Scaling-Up-of-Agroecology-Altieri.pdf

Altieri, M.A., Funes-Monzote, F.R. & Petersen, P. (2011) Agroecologically efficient agricultural systems for smallholder farmers: Contributions to food sovereignty. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 14 December. Springer-Verlag,
DOI 10.1007/s13593-011-0065-6

Altieri, M.A. & Nicholls, C.I. (2013) The adaptation and mitigation potential of traditional agriculture in a changing environment. Climatic Change, 13 September. DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0909-y

Altieri, M.A., Koohafkan, P. & Nicholls, C. (2014) Strengthening resilience of modern farming systems: A key prerequisite for sustainable agricultural production in an era of climate change. Third World Network, Briefing Paper 70, January

Berkes, F. & Folke, C., editors (1998) Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience. Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, UK

Brokensha, D., Warren, D.M. & Werner, O. (1980) Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Development. Uni-versity Press of America; Lanham, MD

Context Institute, (1991/1994) Eco-Villages and Sustainable Communities: A Report for Gaia Trust. Context Institute; Bainbridge Island, WA

Conway, C. (1997) The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the 21st Century. Cornell University Press; Ithaca, NY

Critchfield, R. (1983) Villages. Anchor Books; Garden City, New York, NY

Critchfield, R. (1994) The Villagers. Anchor Books; New York, NY

Denevan, W.M. (1995) Prehistoric agricultural methods as models for sustainability. Advanced Plant Pathology, 11, 21-43

De Schutter (2010) Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. United Nations General Assembly. Human Rights Council, sixteenth session, agenda item 3 (A/HRC/16/49)

Ericksen, P.J. (2007) Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environ-mental Change, 18(1), 234-245
DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2007.09.002

Ewell, J.J. (1999) Natural systems as models for the design of sustainable systems of land use. Agroforestry Systems, 45, 1-21
DOI: 10.1023/A:1006219721151

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2004) Globalization of food systems in developing countries: Impact on food security and nutrition. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 83; Rome

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2014) Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems: SAFA Guidelines, Version 3.0; Rome

Feagan, R. (2007) The place of food: Mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems. Progress in Human Geography, 31(1), 23-42
DOI: 10.1177/0309132507073527

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc.; New York

Fukuoka, M. (1978) The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming. New York Review Books; New York

Gliessman, S.R. (2014) Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition. CRC Press; Boca Raton, FL.

Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S., Thomas, S.M. & Toulmin, C. (2010) Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science, Vol. 327, 12 February, 812-18
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185383

Goma, H.C., Rahim, K., Nangendo, G., Riley, J. & Stein, A. (2001) Participatory studies for agro-ecosystem evaluation. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 87, 179-190
DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2012.676797

Harris, J.M., editor (2003) Rethinking Sustainability: Power, Knowledge, and Institutions. The University of Michigan Press; Ann Arbor

Imhoff, D. & Baumgartner, J.A., editors (2006) Farming and the Fate of Wild Nature: Essays in Conservation-Based Agriculture. Watershed Media; Healdsburg, CA

IASSTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) (2009) Agriculture at a crossroads. In IAASTD Global Report, Island Press; Washington, D.C.

IIED (International Institute of Environment and Development) (2013) Agriculture and food systems for a sustainable future: An integrated approach. Briefing Sheet, May

Kimbrell, A., editor (2002) The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. Island Press; Washington, D.C.

Kotke, W.H. (2007) The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization: The Seed of the Future. AuthorHouse; Bloomington, IN

Leakey, R. (1994) The Origin of Humankind. Basic Books; New York

Lott, M. (2011) 10 calories in, 1 calorie out: The energy we spend on food. Scientific American, 11 August.
Retrieved May 26, 2018 at
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/10-calories-in-1-calorie-out-the-energy-we-spend-on-food/

Malkina-Pykh, I.G. & Pykh Y.A. (2003) Sustainable Food and Agriculture. WIT Press; Southampton, UK

Matson, P.A., Parton, W.J., Power, A.G. & Swift, M.J. (1977) Agricultural intensification and ecosystem properties. Science, New Series, Vol. 277, 25 July, 504-509
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5325.504
Norberg-Hodge, H., Merrifield, T. & Gorelick, S. (2002) Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Zed Books; London

Norgaard, R.B. (1994) Development Betrayed: The End of Progress and a Coevolutionary Revisioning of the Future. Routledge; London

Pretty, J.N. (1995) Participatory learning for sustainable agriculture. World Development, Vol. 23, No. 8, 1247-1263

Pretty, J., editor (2005) The Earthscan Reader in Susta-inable Agriculture. Earthscan Publications, Ltd.; London

Richards, P. (1985) Indigenous Agriculture Revolution. Hutchison and Co., Ltd.; London

Narayanasamy, N. (2009) Participatory Rural Appraisal: Principles, Methods and Application. Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd.; New Delhi

Netting, R.M. (1993) Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture. Stanford University Press; Stanford, CA

Saifi, B. & Drake, L. (2008) A coevolutionary model for promoting agricultural sustainability. Ecological Econo-mics, 65, 24-34
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.11.008
Scherr, S.J. & McNeely, J.A. (2007) Farming with Nature: The Science and Practice of Ecoagriculture. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Schmookler, A.B. (1984). The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution. University of California Press; Berkeley

Shiva, V. (2000) Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply. South End Press; Cambridge, MA

Smith, P. & Gregory, P.J. (2013) Climate change and sustainable food production. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Vol. 72, 21-28
DOI: 10.1017/S0029665112002832

Uphoff, N., editor (2002) Agroecological Innovations: Increasing Food Production with Participatory Development. Earthscan Publications, Ltd.; London

World Food Programme (2007), Food Security Assess-ment Bangladesh

Wirzba, N., editor (2003) The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land. Shoemaker & Hoard; Washington, D.C.