A Growing Culture

A Growing Culture (AGC) fights for farmers’ rights and freedom because autonomy is a key driver of social justice, which is in turn a fundamental element to environmental resiliency. We are seeding a movement in which farmers have control over their land and agricultural practices, thereby releasing them from top-down solutions alien to their cultures, soils, and realities; we are building a coalition that leverages local knowledge, innovations, and research of hundreds of millions of farmers from around the world by providing the space for small-scale producers to collaborate on a global scale. Supporting farmers everywhere to join together and teach each other how to address the biggest challenges of today is key to rebuilding autonomous farming communities. Founded in 2010, our mission is to advance a culture of farmer autonomy and agroecological innovation. We work through three objectives built around the pillars of community engagement, information exchange, and advocacy: 1) We support local experimentation, agroecological innovations, and self-reliant farming communities through Participatory Innovation Development (PID) at the local level. On-the-ground support for PID strengthens the sustained capacity of local leaders to take ownership of their agricultural system. 2) We nurture farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange through participatory and appropriate technologies—specifically the Library for Food Sovereignty (LFS), an online mixed-media and interoperable resource launching in 2017 to leverage local knowledge on a global scale. LFS creates a digital space for communities to exchange, showcase, and build upon the knowledge of the world’s farmers so that disruptive innovations can flourish. 3) We conduct global advocacy campaigns that work to reframe and respect the role of farmers in the world; incorporate them into research, extension, and policy sectors; and ultimately displace industrial products and practices that harm the environment. Evidence-based advocacy campaigns channel what we learn from farmers to the sectors who stand the most to learn from their knowledge, including policymakers, agricultural extension, and academia. With growing evidence showcased in LFS, we also inspire society-at-large to recognize and celebrate farmers as entrepreneurial leaders of agricultural innovation. Employing our three-pillar methodology offers a holistic approach to increasing farmer autonomy and breaking the top-down model that dominates our agricultural system. Each of these key elements fosters and strengthens the global coalition of grassroots farmers who will ignite a paradigm shift in our food system. This multifaceted approach unlocks the power of farmers’ potential to take control of their livelihoods and our food system.