The Funeral of Family Farmers
Sapori & Saperi Adventures is making tourism work to sustain the rural economy and its people.
In 2005 when I was thinking about starting Sapori & Saperi Adventures, I made a list of what I wanted to achieve. I had already met small-scale family farmers cultivating the land, rearing animals and producing traditional products much as their parents and grandparents had. I had also noticed the connection people felt with the countryside and caring for it. Even city dwellers had roots in the land. Either they or their close relatives still owned farmland. They went out from the cities to pick grapes and olives. I observed that although farmers worked hard, they seemed content with their labours, proud of their produce, and had time for leisure, more leisure than I had. Often extended families stayed together, the old teaching and caring for the young and being cared for in their turn.
I don’t want to romanticise, at least, not too much. Many more people have left the land than stayed. They found the work too hard or not satisfying. But those who had stayed communicated a joy which I hoped to transmit to the travellers who came to me. And I wanted to help preserve their way of life. Much of what you pay in fees to me, goes to them. You too are helping preserve their way of life. And the fact that you come all the way from distant parts of the world to see them at work reinforces their self-esteem, and perhaps helps convince their children that the family farm is worth defending.
But small family farms are under attack everywhere from agribusiness. The following film, the funeral of peasant farmers, was made by farmers. They are not romantics. They know the hardships and the value of their way of life. It takes place near a small village in Umbria, the province just to the south of Tuscany, but it could be anywhere. Please watch it (and have your hankies to hand).
As I started writing this blog, I Googled ‘family farm’ and discovered that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is also worried about the demise of the family farm. Last year they introduced the UN Decade of Family Farming. Here’s why:
‘The UN Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 aims to shed new light on what it means to be a family farmer in a rapidly changing world and highlights more than ever before the important role they play in eradicating hunger and shaping our future of food. Family farming offers a unique opportunity to ensure food security, improve livelihoods, better manage natural resources, protect the environment and achieve sustainable development, particularly in rural areas. Thanks to their wisdom and care for the earth, family farmers are the agents of change we need to achieve Zero Hunger, a more balanced and resilient planet, and the Sustainable Development Goals.’
My wish for 2021 is that together we will help save a few family farms.
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