Mexican Farmers Visit Alma for Common Table Forum
A contingent of 15 farmers, indigenous leaders and agricultural
representatives from Mexico will visit Alma June 15 to 21 to
participate in the second annual Common Table Forum, an interchange
between Mexican and U.S. Midwestern farmers.
Sponsored by Alma College with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the Common Table Forum strives to increase binational understanding of agricultural conditions, share best practices, discover common ground, and develop proposals that address the common needs of farmers in the United States and Mexico, says Ed Lorenz, the Alma College faculty member who is organizing the forum.
“The invited Mexican participants are from the State of Chihuahua and represent various agricultural sectors in northern Mexico, commercial farmers, farm advisors, and campesino farmer-ranchers and subsistence indigenous farmers from the Tarahumara culture of the Sierra Madre,” says Lorenz.
During the week the Mexican group will tour Alma College and the city of Alma, local farms, and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College and Cultural Center in Mount Pleasant.
The public is invited to a free keynote speech launching the Common Table by award-winning Michigan filmmaker Christopher Bedford, who produces advocacy films to help farmers and consumers promote the transition to a humane, sustainable local food economy.
His presentation at 7 p.m. Monday, June 16 in the Swanson Academic Center Room 113 at Alma College will include a showing of “What Will We Eat?" a 26-minute film that reveals the growing crisis in industrial agricultural and how a grassroots coalition of consumers and small farmers is inventing a healthy, humane, homegrown alternative.
The keynote presentation is jointly sponsored by the Common Table and the Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization (ECCO).
The Common Table Project was developed in 2007 to initiate a global perspective on the cultural, economic, environmental, political, social and technological challenges and impacts on agricultural practices and rural life, especially on the sustainability of food supplies and survival of rural communities and indigenous cultures.
“Recommendations will be developed to make rural life, migration and agriculture more humane, with renewed respect for life, human communities and human rights,” says Lorenz. “The Common Table Project positions Alma to play a pivotal role in the global discussion of agricultural change and the current food crisis. The Alma meeting will follow by 10 days the United Nations meetings in Rome on the global food problem.”
The first Common Table Forum occurred in Chihuahua in August 2007.
Funding for the forum is provided in part by a grant from the W.K.K. Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as part of a trustee mini-grant program designated by Dottie Johnson, the wife of former Alma College Trustee Mart Johnson.
ECCO is a local educational organization dedicated to informing the public of the environmental, health, economic and ethical impacts of agricultural practices. Its goal is to do on the local level what the Common Table is attempting globally — to bring together farmers and other rural residents to promote sustainable and otherwise responsible agriculture.
Posted: Thu, June 5th, 2008 at 11:18AM