Farming with Paulo Freire
September 26th, 2011 By: Damian Adjodha, Production Manager, Fresh City Farms What does supporting urban farming really accomplish? Will buying local and organic really bring down those that monopolize the world by holding food systems hostage? What would Paulo Freier say about the dynamics of the current local food movement? Who’s Paulo Freire? I am back in school now, and I am reading one of those books I always knew I had to, and always wondered when I would get the chance to. If you haven’t read Paulo Freire’s "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", you should. Freire was a Brazilian educator and theorist. "The Pedagogy of the Oppressed" has defined the popular education/ liberation movements of the late twentieth century. A must read for all revolutionaries! As I rush to pull the radishes and carrots I am thinking like Freire in order to prepare for a class entitled "Popular Education for Social Change". I aspire to be an educator/ revolutionary farmer, for at its’ root the local food movement is the beginning of a revolution. Transforming food systems has always been the activity that forever changes a society. From prehistoric times we see the evidence that this is true. Society itself only really became observable by historians when peoples began working together to move the soil and farm. Tyrannically structured society began when individuals began to realize there was power in the amassing of food. If they were able to persuade farmers (usually through fear) to allow them to gather their crops and sell them for the farmers these tyrants could essentially control everything relevant to the survival and development of a society. Modernity was created when these tyrants took this system to its logical extreme and began conquering other peoples and lands in order to produce food to sell to accumulate unfathomable wealth and excess. So where are we now? The titans of industrial agriculture perpetuate many of these injustices. Arguably the main difference is just via mechanization and chemicalization, most of the human slaves were removed from the equation. But if you look beyond the shiny air-conditioned tractors and the miles and miles of pristine monocropped fields, farmers in many ways are slaves to the government and lending institutions (to buy the shiny tractors, GMO seeds and chemical cocktails). And are many among us not oppressed by a system that has removed us from our Agri-Cultures and forces us to buy their unhealthy and unsustainable food in order to survive? Buying "local" or "organic" will not automatically transform us from the oppressor into the oppressed, by whom, according to Freire, the revolution must be started. However, by supporting enterprises that are training people to regain our humanity by reconnecting with our roots, we begin to regain our Humanity.