We Feed the World features the extraordinary stories of 50 communities around the world. From fisherman in the Artic North to farmers in the Colombian Amazon. The collection of images and stories take you on a journey across six continents, giving you a glimpse of agroecology in action. Each introduce you to the men, women and communities that produce 70% of the world’s food every day and in doing so, help to address many of the most pressing planetary crises’ of our time. From climate change to the loss of biodiversity, from our rising health challenges to the wellbeing of our communities. This page gives you the chance to explore these myriad displays of agroecology and their accompanying images.

  • Photograph taken by Carolyn Drake

    Masumoto Family, California

    USA. Del Ray, California. 2016. The Matsumoto Family Farm during peach harvest. The first acres of the farm were purchased in 1948 by Takashi Matsumoto after he left a Japanese internment camp. The organic farm is now run by his son David "Mas" Matsumoto and spans 80 acres, producing peaches, nectarines, and grapes for raisins. Mas' daughter Nikiko works on the farm full time and his wife Marcy and son Korio work part time.

    We Feed the World…with Nutritious, Healthy Food

    Mas Masumoto inherited an 80-acre organic peach farm in California from his parents and for many years he grew some of the juiciest and most delicious peach varieties in the region. However, as the supermarkets started looking for bigger produce, Mas’s heritage peaches were deemed ‘too small’ and he faced the reality confronting many farmers today: if he wanted to stay in business he would have to pull out his beloved old trees and re-plant more commericial varieties. Ordering a digger, he sat down to write a letter of lament to the LA Times. It began like this;

    ”The last of my Sun Crest peaches will be dug up this fall. A bulldozer will crawl in, rip each tree from the Earth and toss it aside; the sounds of cracking limbs and splitting trunks will echo through my fields. My orchard will topple easily, gobbled up by the power of the diesel engine and metal rake and my acceptance of a fact that is unbelievable but true: No one wants a peach variety with wonderful taste”.

    When the letter was published, Mas was overwhelmed by people’s response, begging him to keep the trees and explore alternative markets. Taking a leap of faith, he kept the trees and now his old variety peaches are in demand at farmers markets and sustainable restaurants across California.

    Photographs by Carolyn Drake.

  • San Isidro, Mexico

    Photograph taken by Graciela Iturbide

    We Feed the World…as Custodians of Our Land

    The village of San Isidro is on the frontline of a David and Goliath story of farming resistance in Mexico. The residents here are sandwiched between giant agro-industrial corporations who have illegally taken over their land for thirty years. On one side is the multinational marketing company, Amway, suspected to be producing freeze dried food for the American military while on the other side is Monsanto, who uses the land to grow ‘experimental’ GM crops.

    Despite a court ruling confirming the communities legal right to the land, the miles of white polytunnels of these companies remain and San Isidro is left to battle on, producing Milpa – a mixture of crops which includes maize, beans, squash – and saving their ancestral seeds. 

    Photography by Graciela Iturbide

  • Borca family, Breb village, Maramures, Romania

    The whole Borca family, from Breb, puts finishing touches on one of the 40 haystacks it makes each summer. Maramures, Romania. June 2012. Photograph taken by Rena Effendi

    We Feed the World…as Custodians of Our Land

    Romania is one of the last bastions of European traditional agriculture with millions of small-scale farms. Over 60% of the countries’ milk here is produced by families with just two or three cows and used in the same village. In the Carpathian Mountains, the Borca family, follow a centuries-old tradition of making haystacks out of Alfalfa and local grasses to feed their animals for the winter months.

    These ancient rituals are under threat, however, as Romanian agricultural land is sold off to foreign companies without consultation or compensation. Farmers now face becoming landless labourers for the big agribusiness plantations, who export their produce, and threaten to destroy their diverse ecosystems. The people here understand their landscape, because they have lived in a reciprocal relationship with it for so many generations. They know the importance of passing this knowledge onto their children. Anuța Borca says ‘We have to teach them something that allows them to survive if they have no job. It’s important because the tradition is a treasure. If they learn it, they will be richer.’

    Photographs by Rena Effendi

  • Southern Roots Organics CSA, Dorset, UK

    Southern Roots Organics CSA in Dorset, UK taken by Sian Davey

    We Feed the World…with healthy, nutritious food.

    Dee Butterly and Adam Payne are part of a movement of young new entrant farmers who are returning to the land with the intention of making a social and environmental difference. At just 27, they made the decision to set up Southern Roots Organics Community Supported Agriculture scheme (CSA), with the mission of producing affordable, nutritious food available in their local community in West Dorset.

    Based at Lower Hewood Farm, their 2.5 acre market garden, they now provide vegetable boxes to 50 households as well as supplying 15 shops and restaurants within a 10 mile radius. Also, as representatives of the Landworkers’ Alliance – a grassroots union of farmers, growers and land-based workers around the UK – they campaign for a better food system and the rights of small-scale farmers.

    In any given season they produce over 50 different types of vegetables using more than 200 varieties of seed. At the same time, they want to ensure that good food is available to all. Dee says “We are farming in a time when there is such inequality in our food system and a stark imbalance over who is able to access nutritious produce and eat well. We want people to feel and know they have a right to good healthy food and we try and provide it with much care and respect to both the land and our local communities.’

     

    Photographs by Sian Davey

  • Yangdong, Guizhou, China

    Dong Community, China taken by Zhang Kechun

    We Feed the World…in harmony with other species

    In the mountain village of Yangdong in the Guizhou province of Southwestern China, ethnic Dong farmers harvest their rice on six-hundred year old rice terraces, using farming methods hail back to the Han dynasty and involve an ancient and symbiotic relationship between man, animals and nature. Each rice paddy hosts hundreds of species of animals, insects, amphibians, fish and wild plants.

    These ancient methods are in stark contrast with China’s agricultural machine which has already surpassed all other countries on agrochemical production, consumption and pollution. Every year, nearly two million tonnes of pesticides are poured into the Chinese landscape creating more pollution than all the country’s factories put together and causing significant issues for any life in its way.

    The Dong people take a very different approach. All nature is regarded as sacred and having a spirit. During harvest, as a way of giving back to nature, a small portion of the crop is left for the birds and even the rats. Oxen are revered and considered the driving force of the paddies, as well as the principal fertilisers. Traditional wisdom has taught the Dong to maintain a balance between the human population and nature. The community say, “Animals and all living things have a spirit. Even the old trees, springs and rivers. We must trust them and work with them, not against them”.

     

    Photographs by Zhang Kechun

  • Filhos Da Terra, MST, Alagoas, Brazil

    MST, Alagoas, Brazil taken by Bruno Morais

    We Feed the World..and provide work for All

    Forty years ago, the families of the Filhos da Terra community worked as labourers on the sugar plantation of Ouricuri, earning minimum wages to produce sugar for the insatiable export market. When the landowner refused to pay their wages, they were left with two options. They could either abandon their homes and migrate to the overcrowded slums of nearby cities or take back the very thing they needed to lead a more dignified and productive life – Land.

    The community occupied the unused plantation land and started to build shelters and grow food. The landlord hired armed militia to remove them. The next 13 years were a struggle of violent conflict until finally, the government granted the community the right to stay and feed themselves from the land they grew up on. Today, Filhos da Terra is just one of thousands of communities across Brazil who form the biggest social movement in Latin America, MST (Movement of Landless Workers). Their motto and driving force reads; “Fight, build People’s Agrarian Reform”.

     

  • El Choro, Cochabamba, Bolivia

    El Alto Community, Bolivia taken by Nick Ballon

    We Feed the World…and Revive Community Wellbeing

    Four thousand metres high in the Andean mountains, the small community of El Choro have returned to practicing the ancestral philosophy of Sumak Kawsay, which permeated indigenous Quechuan life for thousands of years. Sumak Kawsay, which promotes the coexistence of all living entities, taught generation after generation to live in harmony with themselves, with their community and above all, with Mother Nature.

    It is now helping to bring the families back to a way of life that promotes a diverse and healthy diet as well as financial independence. El Choro work communally to take care of their lands and have restored 150 ancestral varieties of potatoes as well as quinoa and other grains. They have also brought back traditional medicines, started beekeeping, breeding fish and even cultivating fruit trees high up in their mountains. The people of El Choro believe that everything in life is interconnected. They say ‘everything that the individual does has direct and indirect consequences for all living beings’.

    Photography by Nick Ballon

  • Bassieri, Burkina Faso

    Tindanou Poudou,

    We Feed the World…and Regenerate Our Soil

    Eight years ago, the women of Bassieri village faced a food crisis. Drought and soils degraded through years of deforestation and using chemical fertilisers, had left them with little food to feed their families. The situation was so dire they were forced to break into the giant termite mounds, that dot this arid landscape, to steal back food the insects had stored there.

    The women looked for a new way forward; working together they combined traditional knowledge, learnt from elders of the West Sahel, with new agroecological techniques to harvest water and revive their soils. They built stone barriers along the contour lines of their plots to minimize the water run-off and dug small moon shaped basins to fill with compost and capture the rain. They also diversified their crops, moving away from growing monocrops, and instead planting a mix of cereals like millet and sorghum alongside leguminous crops which fix nitrogen into the soil and increase its fertility. As Fatou Batta from Association Nourrir Sans Détruire proudly points out ‘it is the women who are the rehabilitators of this land.’

    Photography by Andrew Esiebo

  • Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, Arizona.

    Hopi Community, Arizona, USA by Jane Hilton

    We Feed the World…as Custodians of Our Land

    Leigh Kuwanwisiwma farms his corn, sunflower and squash fields on the Hopi Reservation in northeast Arizona, where he has lived all his life. It is a dry, barren landscape that requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, passed down through the generations, to farm.

    Leigh is a seed guardian who has brought back 40 varieties of indigenous seeds to Hopi lands. The most important crops are the three blue corn varieties. It is these sacred seeds which the Hopi say were given to them by the Ma’saw (The Earth Guardian) to protect and nourish them. To help them grow, Hopi farmers bury the corn seeds eighteen inches into the ground so they can find moisture and flourish. Seeds like these, which have adapted to grow in extreme conditions, are now invaluable on a planet faced with increasing climatic instability. 

    Photography by Jane Hilton

  • Likotuden, Indonesia

    We Feed the World…and Increase Seed Diversity

    Community leader Maria Loretha spent months travelling around the remote villages of East Flores talking to elders, before she eventually found the indigenous sorghum seed varieties that used to grow prolifically in this region of Indonesia. The ancient crop – now known for its superfood qualities – had all but died out as successive governments encouraged farmers to grow white rice and maize instead. However, these commercial varieties did not work in East Flores where the volcanic rock makes it difficult to maintain moisture. Despite increasing amounts of chemical fertilisers, the rice and maize failed and the local families were left hungry, in debt, and faced with the prospect of having to leave to become migrant workers.

    In response to the dire situation, Maria Loretha mobilised the women to plant 30 acres of sorghum using the old seed varieties she had collected from the elders. The experiment has now proven so successful that it has now expanded to other parts of Indonesia. For the women of Likotuden, the old sorghum seeds have become a route to independence, allowing them to feed their families and break free from a reliance on chemical fertilisers and subsequent debt. 

    Photography by Martin Westlake

  • Alice Holden, Growing Communities, Dagenham

    We Feed the World…and Revive Community Wellbeing

    Alice Holden is the  Head Grower at Growing Communities Dagenham Farm, an  organic agricultural project which has transformed an ex-council nursery  into a productive market garden. The farm supplies vegetables to the Growing Communities box scheme which is based in East London and sends produce around a thousand city homes every week. On less than two acres, Alice  focuses  on producing  repeat cropping, perishable and nutrient rich vegetables  like salads and leafy greens which make the best use of small space and can  complement  other foods. Her enjoyment in the job, however, comes from much more than producing the food. ‘We have lots of help from volunteers who come from all sorts of different backgrounds. The growing means we all work towards a common goal.  Everybody can help in some way’ says Alice. ‘Being outdoors doing physical work and making a tangible transformation can take people out of their heads and make them feel better, physically and mentally’.   

    Photographer: Rankin

  • Puerto Colombia, Amazon, Colombia

    We Feed The World… And Cool The Planet 

    The community of Puerto Colombia lies on the Tiquié River in Vaupés, one of the most remote regions of the Colombian Amazon. The six families who live here thrive through a combination of hunting, gathering, fishing and small-scale farming. Each has several ‘chagras, or forest gardens, where the community collectively grow over 70 varieties of cassava, a dozen types of plantain and six varieties of pineapple. Crops are planted for three to five years before the garden is moved to another area, allowing the rainforest to regenerate naturally. In this way, farming is undertaken with a deep respect for the forest as a source of life and their place of origin. The families here seek to maintain a dynamic balance between the world of the forest, the world of the ancestors (the spiritual world) and those of humans, through the wise council of the shamans. But today with the changing climate the shamans struggle to interpret the signs that have always guided them. They now look for new signs to help them advise their community on when and where to plant, hunt and fish. 

    Photographer: Stefan Ruiz

  • Naturaleza Viva, Argentina

    We Feed The World…In Harmony With Other Species

    Now doting grandparents, Remo Venica and Irmina Kleiner spent over ten years on the run, living in the jungle after speaking out about the rights of peasants in a dictator-led Argentina. Two of their six children were born on the floor of a hastily constructed mud hut before being handed over to friends, while they fled to Europe to await a change in government. Today, back home and surrounded by their extended family they run a 120 hectare mixed, agroecological farm in Argentina’s North Eastern province – an area more commonly known for its millions of hectares of GM Soybeans. The farm follows biodynamic principles, sometimes referred to as ‘super organic’ which emphasizes the need to look after the soil with manures and composts as well as farm a diversity of crops and animals. Today, the farm produces everything from rice to wheat to a great variety of cheese and dairy products which are sold in the local markets. The success of Naturaleza Viva shows what is possible when we stop trying to control the natural world. As Remo says ‘If you work with Nature, she will work with you. If you work against Nature, she will work against you’. 

    Photographer: Jordi Ruiz Cirera

  • Colin Seis, Winona Farm, New South Wales, Australia

    We Feed The World… And Regenerate Our Soil

    Colin Seis’ farm was all but destroyed 25 years ago, in a devastating bushfire. He lost 4000 sheep, all the buildings and almost his life. The disaster left Colin with no money to buy chemical fertilisers, which the farm had depended on for 30 years. Overnight, the Seis family needed a way to farm that didn’t cost any money. Colin was the fourth generation on the land and had grown up hearing stories of the extraordinary diversity of the native grasslands that used to grow in the area. These grasses had evolved to tolerate the local soil conditions and unlike European or ‘improved’ grasses, the native varieties didn’t need chemical inputs. Colin encouraged them to regenerate. Furthermore, he followed Nature’s lead and instead of ploughing up the fields – as industrial agriculture dictated – he planted cereal crops like wheat, oats and barley straight into the grassland. Not only did the crops flourish but this new system kickstarted the soil biology and local ecosystems as well. Kangaroos, koala bears and hundreds of native bird returned to the farm. Today, Colin’s crazy idea is called pasture cropping and is employed on three million acres around the world. He says ‘Being a farmer now is very easy because I just let Mother Nature run it for me.’

    Photographer: Katrin Koenning 

  • Shashe community, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

    We Feed the World… And Increase Seed Diversity 

    In the dryland area of central Masvingo province, Zimbabwe, lies the vibrant community of Shashe. Shashe is the proud birthplace of the Shashe Agroecology School and ZIMSOFF – the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum – which represents 19,000 farmers across the country. The school trains farmers in agroecological farming techniques such as inter-cropping and water harvesting, organising farmer-to-farmer exchanges, seed swaps and food festivals. Each year the farmers of Shashe come together for the Matatenda festival. A week-long ceremony to celebrate the harvest and give thanks to the seasons and the spirits of the rains. A key part of the ceremony is the sacred millet beer, which is prepared by an elected group of women over a fire for seven days. When the beer is ready, the community gather to partake in a ritual allowing them to communicate with the spirits and a procession is led into the forest. Music, singing and dancing follows, and the rest of the beer and harvest food is enjoyed.

    Photographer: Jo Ractliffe 

  • The Mazvihwa Community, Zvishavane, Zimbabwe

    We Feed the World… And Cool the Planet

    The community of Mazvihwa in south central Zimbabwe knows all too well the impact of climate change. The erratic rainfall here has left these farmers struggling to grow crops and pushed the harvest later every year. The crisis has led them to turn their backs on the hybrid maize varieties and chemical fertilisers handed out by the government and return to the indigenous seeds that their ancestors grew. They are now reviving traditional crops like rapoko (finger millet), bulrush millet and sorghum. These were carefully bred and cultivated by their ancestors over time to withstand long periods without water. They are also reviving traditional ways to conserve their water thanks to the techniques of the late Zephaniah Phiri, which involves building terraces and utilising the natural contours of the land to keep water in the fields and nourish the soil. The changes have produced significant results for the farmers with a great increase in their yields thanks to this regeneration of land and soil.

    Photographer: Pieter Hugo 

  • Yeo Valley, Somerset, England

    Yeo Valley, Somerset, England 

    The Mead Family have been dairy farming in Somerset, in the South West of England – within the same ten miles – for 500 years. Tim and his mother, Mary, run the farm together and oversee the family business which is named after the landscape that surrounds them – Yeo Valley. Now the largest organic dairy producer in the country, the business is still very much a community operation; providing work for 1,700 local people, opening its two award winning cafes and garden and critically, supporting other organic dairy farmers in Somerset by buying their milk at fair prices through Omsco – the organic milk suppliers cooperative they helped create. Both Mary and Tim see farming as a custodial duty. ‘I don’t have any concept of owning stuff’ says Tim ‘this is just what I do. We’re looking after this land for the next generation’. Mary agrees ‘Farms can’t move so we’re rooted to this community and have to do our best to look after the land and the food we produce’. It’s this old-fashioned, no-nonsense approach that has kept the family and farm successful and at the heart of the community.

    Photographer: Rankin

  • Gerald Miles, Caerhys Farm, St Davids, Wales.

    We Feed the World… With Nutritious, Healthy Food

    Gerald Miles took on the mortgage of his family farm at the young age of 16. Over the years, he has become a master of innovation as he’s battled the odds to keep his land productive and his family in business. In the most recent re-invention the farm became a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Scheme. Gerald’s goal, as always, is to ensure his farm can continue to grow food and not to be turned into yet another ‘ghost village with holiday cottages’. Today, Caerhys Farm sells a wide range of vegetables direct to sixty families in the area. Gerald wants to help people respect their food again. ‘Food should mean something to you. You should know where it comes from and you should feel it and love it when you eat it.’

    Photographer: Clare Richardson

  • Mzee, Lukindu, Lwengo District, Uganda

    We Feed the World… And Cool the Planet

    John ‘Mzee’ Ssentongo worked as a government accountant for more than 22 years in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, before returning to his ancestral land in Lukindu village. He was shocked to find it abandoned and the lush and beautiful landscape of his childhood now dry and barren. Drawing on traditional wisdom, Mzee started planting fruit trees: mangoes, papayas, avocados, oranges and jackfruits. Now, after a couple of decades, at 72 years old, Mzee is caretaker to a ‘food forest’ which hosts visitors from all over the world who come to learn from his farming philosophy. Mzee sees planting trees as a way to build resilience to climate change and teaches his methods to many farmers from the surrounding villages.

    Photographer: Oscar Mukisa Kibuuka 

  • Kalix, Kustringen, Sweden

    We Feed the World… And Protect Our Waters

    Joakim Bostrom and his friends have fished the local inlets around their village in Northern Sweden since they were boys. As well as a source of food and a means of income, fishing is a way of life here. It is woven deep into the language and knowledge of local people. In the local dialect, called Kalix, Joakim’s grandfather taught him the signs and symbols that can be seen in Nature that indicate the best locations to fish, the best methods for fishing and when to go out with the nets. But his generation could be the last to pass this knowledge on to their children. New Swedish legislation banning all fishing in waters less than three metres in depth threatens to criminalise the ancestral fishing methods of the Kustringen fishermen and fails to recognise their ability to steward Nature and maintain the health of the fish. ‘It’s not easy to put into words the difference between scientific knowledge and our own local knowledge’ says village elder Peder Nilsson. But translating Kalix into a language that government officials might understand, may be the only way to protect this traditional way of life.

    Photographer: Clare Benson