The peasants’ way

British small-scale farmers join international peasants’-rights group, La Via Campesina

La via campesina
A recent article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, titled “Britain’s new ‘peasants’ down on the farm,” highlights the efforts of a number of anti-corporate “smallholder” farmers who have organized into a group known as The Land Workers’ Allliance, the first group from England and Wales to be a member of the international peasants’-rights organization, La Via Campesina.

As The Guardian put it, “The English peasantry may have officially died out in the Middle Ages, but a new breed of small-scale farmers who live off a few acres and celebrate life on the land have been accepted to join the world’s biggest peasant organization. …

“As members of La Via Campesina (literally ‘the peasants’ way’), people in the new alliance share the idea of ‘food sovereignty,’ which insists on the right of people to produce for themselves and their communities and rejects corporate control of the food system.”

“I think people are really realizing what we lose when we lose a good, healthy food culture,” alliance member Jyoti Fernandes was quoted as saying. “And instead of fighting a system that’s bad, we want to create positive alternatives. … How can we take the right steps so that in 50 or 60 years we have enough people [in Britain] engaged in agriculture with enough skills and enough access to land and resources to be able to provide the food we need?”

“Farming has caught the imagination of a new generation of young people who are politically aware. Growing food is a very positive reaction to what many see as problems of globalization,” Devon farmer Ed Hamer was quoted as saying.

Cactus sale!

Go to to learn more about La Via Campesina.

The cactus king is having a sale
Local cactus-grower extraordinaire Claude Geffray announced that on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, Geffray’s Gardens will have its first Open Garden Sale of the summer.

More than 10,000 cacti and succulents will be on sale for 20 to 40 percent off their regular prices, Geffray told me in an email.

“From the tiny plants to the huge specimens, there is something for everyone,” he wrote (I can hear his charming French accent, even in his writing!).

“We now have a great selection of hardy plants including Sempervivums, Sedums, Agaves, Opuntias, Ferocactus, Echinopsis, Yuccas, etc.,” he continued. “Those can be used to create a stunning lansdcape (dryscape, rock garden) that will allow you to conserve water, and reduce considerably the use of fertilizers. We also carry aloe vera, which is a wonderful healing plant.”

The two-day event will take place at Geffray’s nursery at 741 Carpers Court, off Alamo Avenue. Go to or call 345-2849 for more info.

Many of us are unsettled about eating horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, monkeys, rodents or alligators—which other people around the world do eat. Perhaps we should give more attention to the horrid mistreatment of domesticated livestock, the mass-produced cruelties of factory farms, the torturous stalls, the joyless overcrowded feedlots, the loads of antibiotic and hormone additives, the frequent sickness and fatal dismemberments, and the terrible toxic accumulations.

—Michael Parenti, “Eating Horses in Paris