Brendan is a courageous advocate for growing of healthy food and the World Rural Forum have asked him to participate in what is a world civil societies initiative to the UN's International Year of Family Farming.
70% OF THE WORLD FOOD PRODUCTION IS PROVIDED BY FAMILY FARMERS
Of that 70%
50% comes from arable, cropping and gardening
12.5% come from hunting and gathering
7.5% is produced by small urban farmers
The other 30% of food production comes from highly mechanised Western farming.
25% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION IS COMPOSED OF WOMEN FARMERS, which comes to about 1,600 million women. These women are usually running the household, bringing up the children, cooking, cleaning and taking care of the sick and or aged parents as well. (Spare a caring thought for them).
So the International Year of Family Farming is not about the family farm or farming, and it is more than just producing food and products. It covers, contracts, teachers, safety, health workers, education, land use, including farm labour, fisheries, forestry incorporating the whole of the global rural regions.
Brendon being the Oceanic representative and coordinator on a National level, gives a broad overview of what the challenges are; he has a team of 4 very qualified people here in NZ to support this initiative.
One of the main objectives is to explore here in NZ are:Debt - NZers actually seem to want to get large mortgages and loans etc Rural connectivity going beyond road and rail and now integrating fast fibre optics Succession and who is next? What are we going to do in the future, and where is our food going to come from? The NZ identity - Who is New Zealand and where are we going? An organisation to come together to address these issues.
Of these 5, three are to be focussed on.
At present NZ has no rural strategy especially for rural telecommunications connectivity.
None addressing debt and this is a large overhead for many farmers and gardeners.
None of the key issues addressing ‘identity’ are being discussed at ANY level.
Thus this initiative has created 'this Forum' for these discussions to be heard and addressed.
In this interview:
The word organics is broached to which Brendan replies, that when we drop the word organics and have the conversation under more generic terms everyone wants to talk about healthy food. Because from growing to marketing we are all interconnected.
What is the 'International Year of Family Farming' in 2014 and what is family?
How do we build a rural strategy for NZ and be lead by civil society and not going to the government for money.
How do we have conversations in rural NZ about GE, for example and water quality and soil degradation?
In the rural sector family farms versus corporate farms are a growing tension Corporate farms would not employ the local accountant or the local engineer or the local lawyer and other localised trades people.
So rural communities are suffering and how do we address this?
Forestry - a lot of deaths by accident - loss of family, father, and compensation, welfare etc - more care more training, more up skilling
Farming is about having a deep connection to the land and the farmers feet are also in the ground with an intimacy of soil fertility, grasses, trees, bird life, smells and the change of the seasons. However, you lose intimacy when your operation becomes too big ... where ... you can't or don’t walk your land as it is already digitally mapped, on GPS. It is also very much about finding that sweet spot on your land, and as a metaphor it’s around families and kids at play and immersing themselves in natures sounds, colours and fragrances, but also a lot of these days families are under stress. Like availability of finding partners for marriage and start a family. Where once there were community dances, tennis clubs, badminton and table tennis at the local hall. Yes, there maybe the rugby club, and that's the convergence point of a local area for anyone, not even rugby supporters.
Farms are not always about profitability and about production. It's also a good time and have friendships experiencing producing high quality products, being innovative, working with animals, machines, and sorting out problems, that makes rural living exciting. Kids can learn much, also to be gentle yet strong - nurturing in a growing way, not in a hunting, killing exterminating way, but feeling, being connected and honouring of place. This especially with children is becoming more rare. Note that there is also death on farms, that animals do die, and this has to be taken in stride as well.
Brendan intimates that this whole initiative could lead to transformational change in farming and land practice, if it gets the needed support / buy in.
Hear that in a private capacity Brendan's team come in alongside small to medium size NZ business get them fit and strong so that when match fit, they are able to go into the world and thrive internationally.
From production to market lead, now farming is becoming relationship lead i.e people wanting to connect with the farmer/gardener to learn about their food that is being sold into the city.
Putting ones soul into the land, blood and sweat (and tears) creates and enhances the land when we understand the energetics of building up soil fertility faster to a better quality etc using biological and ecological process like enhancing water standards and landscapes plus treescapes. It’s not really about technology, it's about techniques as well as the synergy of working with people all the way to distribution, marketing and overseas export.
Connection to quality is becoming relationship based. Especially with labelling of country of origin now being initiated in NZ. Called connection by biological and ecological consciousness.
Quality of care equals enduring relationships
Conscious connection, is growing every year and in this field of quality food it could be 7% per year.
Overseas they are now wanting to know about carbon neutrality, food miles, fairness of trade - pesticide residue, organic or not and wanting tests done again and .. again questioning plastic in foods, coverings and processes of foods. Being certified organic picks up a premium return. Organics means individual health, environmental health, uncontaminated soil, clean streams, no air born contamination, a better ecology from the local to the global this is what translates into health, that benefits the whole.
Learn also about how organics is being regulated in NZ and covers the fact that NZ's state of the environment has never been worse ... basically it means that 'we' collectively are not on the winning team and the reason is poor communication and lack of ... that their needs to be change in our mindset and that the languaging of ecological and environmental considerations be invoked in our daily vernacular.
Be it biological or ecological producer what ever the name .... overseas now the word organic and biological are synonymous and perceptive ears of discerning buyers are listening out for how we in NZ speak to our connection in the way we go about our farming practices.
Brendan also stresses that we be thankful when we eat food, be mindful of its growth into what it is … involve ourselves do gardening and grow some food.
It is actual gardeners not farmers that feed the world so be part of this shift in awareness.
And, be courageous and be daring ... of course you can ...if the seed is ripe ... plant more seeds.
And much, much more.