Cooper Institute is committed to education and action to promote food sovereignty.
In 2004, Cooper Institute, with the support of the Metcalfe Foundation, invited Anne Bishop to facilitate Citizens' Hearings into Food in three Island communities - in O’Leary, North Milton and Poole’s Corner. We heard from people involved in the production of food, both farmers and fishers. We heard about the challenges consumers face in obtaining healthy food, and the struggle faced by low-income families trying to access even the minimum nutrition they need. We received submissions on the environment, plant-breeders rights and seed patenting, land use, water quality and genetically modified organisms. We were given poetry and original songs; we participated in singing and reflected on our connection with the land, and we were treated to a delicious organic suppers. In November of that year, Anne Bishop presented her report at the Latin America Mission Program (LAMP) Daniel O'Hanley Memorial Lecture. You can read the report here.
Partnering with the National Farmers Union
In 2011, Cooper Institute, in collaboration with members of the National Farmers Union in PEI produced a brochure describing food sovereignty.
Cooper Institute identifies with the following declaration resulting from the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali in 2007. The forum was made up of about 500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations of peasants/family farmers, artisanal fishers, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers and environmental and urban movements.
DECLARATION OF NYÉLÉNI
27 February 2007
Nyéléni Village, Sélingué, Mali
Declaration of the Forum for Food Sovereignty, Nyéléni 2007
We, more than 500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations of peasants/family farmers, artisanal fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers and environmental and urban movements have gathered together in the village of Nyéléni in Sélingué, Mali to strengthen a global movement for food sovereignty. We are doing this, brick by brick, as we live here in huts constructed by hand in the local tradition, and eat food that is produced and prepared by the Sélingué community. We give our collective endeavor the name “Nyléni” as a tribute to and inspiration from a legendary Malian peasant woman who farmed and fed her peoples well.
Most of us are food producers and are ready, able and willing to feed all the world’s peoples. Our heritage as food producers is critical to the future of humanity. This is specially so in the case of women and indigenous peoples who are historical creators of knowledge about food and agriculture and are devalued. But this heritage and our capacities to produce healthy, good and abundant food are being threatened and undermined by neo-liberalism and global capitalism. Food sovereignty gives us the hope and power to preserve, recover and build on our food producing knowledge and capacity.
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers and users. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal - fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just incomes to all peoples as well as the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social and economic classes and generations.
Continue reading, the entire declaration, here.
PEI Food Security Network
Cooper Institute was one of the key organizations involved in the formation of the P.E.I. Food Security Network in 2008. Other organizations involved in the network include P.E.I. Women's Network, the P.E.I. Healthy Eating Alliance, ALERT, P.E.I. People First, P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities. The FSN can also be found on facebook.
The PEI Food Security Network’s Mission Statement
The PEI Food Security Network is an education and action organization committed to achieving food security in Prince Edward Island. It is dedicated to changing community attitudes and public policy to promote: environmentally appropriate practices for the production and distribution of food; the availability of affordable, healthy, culturally appropriate and personally acceptable food; livable income for producers; the right to food; and PEI self-reliance in food.
Cooper Institute and the PEI Food Security Network are also members of Food Secure Canada
Cooper Institute supports ACT for Community Food Security, a Nova Scotia Community-University Research Project. For a short animated description of the project click here
Resetting the Table - A Peoples' Food Policy for Canada
The People’s Food Policy Project (PPFP) was a pan-Canadian network of citizens and organizations that created Canada’s first peoples' food sovereignty policy. The document, called Resetting the Table, was updated in 2015:
Marie Burge was an Animator with the PPFP. Animators, who came from all the provinces and territories of Canada, were the face of and driving force behind the People’s Food Policy Project. As such, they were responsible for most of the grassroots organizing related to this project to gather regional interests, priorities, and visions and to represent these to the national project.
Seeds of Community
Seeds of community is an initiative supported by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Through this project Cooper Institute supports the development of knowledge and skills related to community seed sovereignty. One aspect of this work is to support the creation of a decentralized network of seed libraries across PEI. On a seasonal basis, workshops and seed shares are held at Public Libraries in Charlottetown, Breadalbane, and Summerside. For new about upcoming events, please visit the Seeds of Community Facebook page.
PEI Seed Alliance
Organized in 2015 through the generous assistance of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, and the support of Cooper Institute, the Alliance offered their first cooperatively produced collection of seeds for the 2016 growing season. Their goal is to continue to expand their collection by trialing open-pollinated, open-source vegetable varieties, as well as pollinator flower varieties to continue to build a living collection of Island adapted seed.
The Alliance hopes to grow their organization by tapping into the PEI community to collect other open pollinated varieties of seeds that have been grown and saved by other Island gardeners and farmers, as well as supporting new seed growers in their efforts to select, save and clean their own seed.
Visit the Alliance website by clicking here.