Confronted with food distribution shortages, urban and rural communities in Venezuela have opted to take action. A growing grassroots movement has emerged with the goal to achieve food sovereignty, and in that process, many farmer organizations and urban agricultural collectives are growing organic products using non GMO seeds. This effort has been supported by the enactment of public policies, such as the Seeds Law, a legal framework -drafted with the participation of farmer organizations- that promotes the use of traditional non GMO seeds, and the creation of the Ministry of Urban griculture.
(picture) Urban garden in Caracas
Why support Venezuela?
At the initiative of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has provided support to economically disadvantaged communities in the US through the years. Since 2005, Venezuelan-owned CITGO Petroleum Corporation has provided millions of gallons of subsidized heating oil to the homes of thousands of families (1.8 million people) to keep warm during the cold winter months, in 25 states, the District of Columbia and many Indigenous reservations and homeless shelters. CITGO has also supported environmental initiatives and coastal restoration efforts in the communities affected by hurricane Katrina, leading volunteers in restoring 81 acres of coastline and wetlands; planting more than 70,000 trees. CITGO has funded numerous social projects in the Bronx, NY, from worker-run and food cooperatives to environmental justice organizations, youth cultural programs, and women of color collectives.
(picture) CITGO heating oil arriving to the Bronx, NY
Now it is our turn to show solidarity with the Venezuelan people, in a people to people campaign to help them with their food autonomy efforts.
The “Seeds of Solidarity for Venezuela” project’s main goal is to donate organic-certified non-GMO Heirloom seeds to participant farmer associations and urban agriculture collectives in Andres Eloy Blanco and Iribarren municipalities, in the State of Lara. As we begin this project, we hope to expand our seed contributions to other areas of Venezuela, including urban gardening efforts in large cities.
“Conuco” means productive garden, and this one is located in the Palo Verde community in the Lara state, Venezuela. Children of all ages plant seeds, harvest vegetables and share with their neighbors. Learning through gardening connects kids to their food and community, and gives them a chance to learn an important life skill.
(Picture) Children and parents from Conuco Colibri
Alianza Agricultural Cooperative
The Alianza is located in Monte Carmelo, Lara state, founded by Gaudy Garcia, a long time farmers-rights activist and main organizer of the “International Seed Guardian Day”, which has been taken place in that community every October for the last 14 years, with the participation of farmers from all over Venezuela and neighboring countries. This event promotes the free exchange of traditional non-GMO seeds and farming knowledge.
(picture) Gaudy Garcia, founder, Alianza Coop
Venezuelan Farmers University “Argimiro Gabaldon” (UCVAG)
The UCVAC is an experimental public institution where farmers and researchers get together to design and implement plans to socialize knowledge and practices to improve food production. With its Back-To-The-Land approach, they organize workshops and provide training to promote small-scale, eco-friendly agriculture mainly in the sate of Lara.
(picture) One of the fields managed by the UCVAG in Carora, Lara
“La Cruz” Communal Council
This citizens’ s council, located at Pio Tamayo parish, Andres Eloy Blanco Municipality, Lara, a coffee farming area, has the important task to diversify the food production using environmentally friendly crops. Rafael Enrique Colmenares, an elected member of the council, was the promoter of the Sisterhood between his municipality and Dane County, (Wisconsin), based on their agricultural commonalities. This sisterhood and the one between Carora and Milwaukee are currently the only Sister-Cities relationships with Venezuela.
(picture) Rafael visiting agricultural coops in Wisconsin, April 2009
JOIN US WITH THIS PROJECT
Contact: Charlie Welch, Co-Coordinator Venezuela Solidarity Committee Vensol2016@gmail.com or 617-230-9505 and Lisa Sullivan, Venezuela Project Liaison at Conuco Colibri, Palo Verde, Lara, Venezuela email@example.com or 01158-424-564-0759
For more information visit http://www.us-venezuelasolidarity.org