After two years in production, the We Feed the World project – which has brought together over 40 high profile photographers to document the lives of small, family farmers – has just shot its 50th case study, in the lovely UK location of the Somerset levels.
The Walronds have been farming this 100 acre mixed farm for over 200 years. Most of their produce is sold either in their own farm shop or in local village markets. In recent years, the challenges have intensified as Rob Walrond says “people have become divorced from the land” and subsequently not interested in where their food comes from. Like many of our farmers, they have also noticed the impact of climate change which has upset centuries of tradition on when to harvest crops. No-one can predict when it will be dry anymore.
The Walronds join our other extraordinary examples of small scale farmers, around the world, who are using regenerative agriculture to not only feed their families but to combat climate change, restore biodiversity and revive the livelihoods and wellbeing of their local communities.
From the tributaries of the Amazon to re-used parking lots in South Central LA, these stories showcase a rich and varied global food system in action. They also highlight the challenges that our farmers face everyday, from drought to unfair legislation to fighting off the corporations who want their land.
In the last few months, our photographers have had the privilige of spending time with farming communities across six continents. From following the working lives of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil to documenting the traditional thanksgiving ceremonies in the midst of political chaos in Zimbabwe. The process has had a deep impact on many photographers, who have felt inspired to change their own lives and engagement in the food system as a result.
I was moved in untold ways by the people I encountered and experienced an open-heartedness, a willingness to engage and debate, and a knowledge of farming practices that turned every preconception had on its head.
Jo Ractliffe, who photographed in Zimbabwe, commented: “I was moved in untold ways by the people I encountered and experienced an open-heartedness, a willingness to engage and debate, and a knowledge of farming practices that turned every preconception had on its head. My conversations particularly, with the five women beer makers, had an intimacy, not unlike those I have with friends at home.. When I came home I started a small vegetable garden and installed two irrigation tanks, and started making plans to go back as the planting season begins.”
All of the images will now come together in a series of exhibitions, that will kick off next October at London’s Bargehouse Gallery. This event will also bring together the UK’s food sovereignty movement to host a series of talks, workshops and films which will engage visitors in learning more about how their individual and collective actions impact on the global food system.
We will keep you up to date as this schedule comes together and let you know where and when you can see the exhibition – if not in London, then at a space nearer to where you live. The next step for us is to produce a book and launch a website, so we’ll let you know when these are ready. But in the meantime, as Christmas approaches and many of us turn our minds to feasting, we urge you to support a food system led by small, family farmers not by corporations!