Why do we need ALPA, an organisation that supports access to land for new farmers in Romania grounded in agroecological principles?
In a context of aging farmers, rapid disappearance of farms, raising land prices, huge pressure from industrial agriculture fueled by multinational capital and subsidies, impoverished rural areas, and constant out-migration, there are very few opportunities available for new-comers into small-scale agriculture. Family farming, peasant agriculture and traditional food are increasingly appreciated by society, yet national and EU policies are mostly catered to the opposing model of production, with detrimental effects on the natural and social environment. It is high time that in Romania we become concerned with a new generation of peasant-farmers whose work is aimed at feeding the local population good food, and at nurturing the environment. To support them, we created ALPA, an organization that strives to secure equitable access to land by ethical means and empower resilient farms based on agroecological principles.
Facts and numbers:
What does ALPA do?
ALPA secures equitable access to land to those who have a strong desire to enter the fascinating profession of agroecological farming. By agroecology we refer not only to organic food production, though also at caring for the social and natural environment in which this takes place.
ALPA’s work is based on three pillars:
I) ALPA secures land and farms through donations (monetary and physical) and rents them to human-scale agroecological farmers.
II) ALPA helps young farmers to get started by means of advising, education, and financial support.
III) ALPA collaborates with national and international organisations which share the common purpose
✓ Access to Land: To ethically secure land and farms or gain management rights for land in order to provide access to these to small agroecological farmers and peasants.
✓ Agroecology: To promote agroecological farming practices through the facilitation of trainings as well as to support a growing network of agroecological training centers.
✓ Nature protection: To protect the natural environment and the exceptionally high biodiversity of plants, animals and heterogeneity of socio-ecological landscapes in Romania.
✓ Local circular economies: To provide jobs in rural areas, protect the common lands, connect local food producers with local food consumers and support the resilience of vibrant communities.
✓ Education: To facilitate access to information about national and EU-regulation and funding opportunities as well as training and education in farm management and agroecological food production.
The Results ALPA is aiming for:
- More young agroecological farmers can fulfill their dream
- Good stewardship of agricultural land with care for nature and biodiversity
- Production of healthy and nutritious food, resulting in better health of people and planet.
- Creation of local food systems and local circular economies where producers and consumers are well connected with the land, each other and the food.
- Expansion of Agroecological farming principles
ALPA is founded by the following people, as a result of the work of the Land Rights Working group of Ecoruralis, while constantly guided by the European Network of Access to Land and also supported through the Ashoka Romania Lokalizer Program (link). ALPA’s founding members are all deeply rooted in peasant agroecological farming, both by the practice, science and politics as well as their participation in the social movements of agroecology and food sovereignty.
Brîndușa has masters degrees both in Environmental Governance and Rural Development. She puts her knowledge where her heart is: by working for ALPA and Eco ruralis and by her active membership in ASAT (give website), the Romanian CSA (community supported agriculture) movement. Besides her support of initiatives both national and international, she has been inspired to engage in farming as a newcomer and is creating edible merchandise for markets in Stanciova, a village close to Timisoara.
Lars is a trained veterinarian from The Netherlands who made the powerful choice to change and became a peasant in Transylvania. He is co-founder of Provision, an example farm and center for Agroecology and NonViolence. Lars believes that reconnecting to the land and the soil has far reaching positive effects, on personal, regional and global levels.
Attila has a masters in Environmental Engineering in Agriculture. He is passionate about the envi-ronmentally and socially fair use of agricultural land. Through his work at Eco Ruralis he has been responsible for coordinating research and creating transparency about the situation of land in Romania. The wish for human safety and subsistence, fueled by his knowledge and global vision, lead him to oppose land grabbing and to support access to land for small farmers and agroecological food producers.
Raluca has a degree that allows her to develop leadership trainings. She has a long path of caring for the marginalised, especially those in the rural countryside. She devotes her energy to activism in many forms and, through her work for Eco Ruralis and ALPA, supports peasant rights to seeds, to markets, and access to land.
Sjoerd is a retired goat and herb farmer in the Provence, France. He co-founded Terre de Liens, the original Access to Land organisation in Europe. He also worked for the establishment of the European Network for Access to Land for Agroecology. Now retired, Sjoerd puts his attention and enthusiasm toward the support of emerging initiatives like ALPA.
Li An Phoa:
Li An Phoa is a watershed system’s thinker & actor. Trained in whole system ecology, philosophy and business, she acts as social innovator cross-pollinating relations among people, disciplines and industries. She initiates projects on landscapes, food and water. She mobilises experts and citizens in watersheds towards Drinkable Rivers, indicators for healthy living. With her nomadic school Spring College, she engages people in outdoor walking and learning experiences. Her websites: DrinkableRivers and SpringCollege.
Robyn Bors Veraart:
Robyn is a trained psychotherapist, music and Gestalt therapist, yoga and meditation instructor and Real Foods Chef now specialising in NonViolence and Non Violent Communication. She offers encouragement and support to the ALPA team in terms of organisational structuring, human relations, and leadership, and she nourishes and inspires them as chef… She is co-founder of Provision, an example farm and center for Agroecology and NonViolence.
Ivo devotes his life energy towards making the work of positive change makers visible through his initiative Love Made Visible. He works with individuals, couples, groups, businesses and organisations to find their true self and highest potential both internationally and at home in Romania. For this he has created the Transylvania Retreat Center.