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Food Autonomy Festival

On the first weekend of June a plot of land in Lutkemeerpolder, West Amsterdam, was occupied in order to host the Food Autonomy Festival. The event was organized in solidarity with local farms to protest against the development of Schiphol airport-oriented business park. Two of our PhD's, Maria Vasile and Ola Gracjasz, joined the protest.

Local resistance for sustainable farming and climate justice

by: Ola Gracjasz and Maria Vasile

The third edition of the Food Autonomy Festival, mainly organized by the international campaigning organization ASEED Europe (Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity), happened during one the most sunny weekends of this year’s approaching summer. The weather made it possible for around 100 people to camp peacefully on the high grass of an empty plot, participate in several outdoor activities and work in the Lutkemeer gardens.

The reason for the festival was to join forces with the members of Lutkemeerpolder’s Boterbloem organic farm and protest against the plan of the Developer SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company) to turn this fertile area into a space for warehouses and distribution center. For the festival ASEED invited people engaged in climate justice, sustainable farming and food production to share knowledge, experiences and prepare together to face potential difficulties. The final programme was rich and versatile. One could choose from farming activities on the occupied soil such as collective and guerilla gardening, listening to info talks about climate justice actions (such as Free the Soil or Ende Gelände), participating in trainings on food justice and radical actions, in workshops on environmentally friendly diets as well as in a singing class to learn songs of resistance from around the world. Vegan and organic food was prepared for the participants by a mobile kitchen collective called Le Sabot. Participation to the festival was free of charge and all workshops were organized on a voluntary basis following principles of knowledge sharing. 

Among the many interesting activities was a workshop organized by the Stroomversnellers, a collective that provides training to groups working on social and environmental justice. The workshop focused on discussing civil disobedience and direct action. It included an interactive and hands-on training for the preparation of mass actions, and more specifically techniques on forming “affinity groups”, which helps to speed up decision-making processes during the actions. The workshop attracted a versatile group of participants from different backgrounds and ages, which allowed for a rich exchange of experiences.

​​​​​​​“Climate justice starts with Lutkemeer”

The Lutkemeerpolder is one of the few green open spaces left in the region of Amsterdam City. It is appreciated for its biodiversity, rich soil, organic farms involved in local provisioning, and as a space for natural recreation. Having been drained for agricultural use in 1856, it is now targeted by the SADC. The eastern part of the area has already been transformed and ‘developed’ in 2003 but some of these plots have still not been sold. Members of Save Lutkemeer and other urban farmers of the area are opposing the further development of this plan for several years and are proposing an alternative for a sustainable use of these fertile grounds. Their proposition, the project called Plan Biopolder, aims to preserve and further adapt the Lutkemeerpolder as a place for environmental education and farming activities.

In the video below, the farmer and activist Alice Fernhout presents the current situation of the Save Lutkemeer struggle. As she mentions, to support their action it is important to spread the word about their struggle. If you would like to receive updates on Save Lutkemeer you can also register to their mailing list here.

Interview with Alice Fernhout

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Overall, the festival managed to give support to this local struggle, while bringing together activists and young academics from different countries working on, among other, climate justice, sustainable agriculture and animal welfare. The festival was an example of how gathering for place-based causes and collective discussions on local problems becomes an occasion for all to learn about grassroots movements and local resistance, which can be carried on in different contexts and within larger international actions.

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