Co-authored by Jordan Treakle and Mollie Wills
This February, NFFC National Program Coordinator Jordan Treakle and Mollie Wills, a grassroots organizer from NFFC member group Rural Vermont, joined delegates from five additional North American La Via Campesina (LVC) member organizations to attend a Youth Encounter in Mexico. The Youth Articulation is an autonomous organizing space within La Via Campesina where people aged 35 and under strategize to advance food sovereignty within our local communities, policy circles, and food systems. The first in-person North America Youth Encounter since 2019, the gathering offered an important opportunity to discuss the issues and realities we face as youth and strategize opportunities for action.
We were hosted in Mexico City by the youth of La Unión Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autónomas (México UNORCA). Conversations were lively as we debated core and emerging themes within La Via Campesina and beyond, including agrarian reform, peasants’ rights, popular peasant feminism, and identity diversities (sexual, gender, cultural, etc.). We found common ground in our struggles, and agreed that unity in diversity can only be achieved by working together on shared strategies – work based on relationship-building, trust, and communication. We reiterated the power and importance of grassroots leadership, movement building, and youth participation in policy making.
This youth gathering took place as La Via Campesina celebrates its 30th anniversary fighting for peasant rights, agroecological practices, a people’s trade agenda, and food sovereignty. LVC has grown into the leading voice for farmers, peasants, fisherfolk, and rural communities in international policy and in the United Nations system, advancing a common vision for justice in our food systems, and grounding community efforts to put that vision into practice.
After engaging with Mexican youth for contextual analysis, debate, and agroecology exchanges in Mexico City, we traveled to the Universidad Campesino Sur, a peasant agroecology school in the state of Morelos. Here we began a strategic planning process to further define the priorities and goals of the LVC North American Youth Articulation, including the continued need to strengthen the relationships and trust between youth in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. We also had the opportunity to visit agroecological farms in the region, and learn about the history of Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapato and agrarian land reform in Mexico.
Above all, the experience reminded us that as youth, we are the future of agriculture. Our realities across North America differ greatly, yet we are united by our shared struggle. Our work on food sovereignty proves to be more fundamental and universal than ever as we face an uncertain and rapidly changing future. In tumultuous times, it is our relationships, trust, and solidarity with each other that lay our shared foundation for a just transition to a livable future.
Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!