As we experience intensifying climate instability, economic disparity, and ecological destruction, our hands have been in the dirt, working to share food and growing techniques within the communities we inhabit. Across the continent, diverse collectives, farms, and mutual aid hubs have organized themselves, especially since 2020, and have been busy creating autonomous food systems, developing grassroots crop breeding, building food production and distribution systems for collective resilience and communal luxury — outside of the market or USDA management. These efforts at mutual aid and horizontal experimentation challenge state violence, racist dispossession, and the myth of scarcity.
At the same time, a movement in Atlanta enters a second year defending a 300 acre forest, which is threatened by construction of a police training facility (dubbed Cop City) and what would be the largest sound stage in the world, solidifying Atlanta as the new Hollywood. Those defending the forest from these dystopian projects are also creating a world outside of the market or state’s control. Eggplants and fig trees sunbathe at the edge of the creek, a cold frame awaits spring germination, foragers commune with the undergrowth, and carpenters improvise structures on the ground and high in the canopy.
Restoring this forest, scarred with a history of indigenous dispossession and prison slave labor, is a complicated task. But we know autonomous food production can break the dirty cycle of land displacement and dependence on the capitalist food system. Moving in this way, towards food autonomy, is essential to the vitality of all life inhabiting the forest. We want to take this opportunity to share lessons and knowledge in all things plants, and learn from the ideas and work of others from all over, inside the fertile context of a forest occupation. Now is the perfect time to combine practical discussions of food autonomy with the movement work of defending the Atlanta forest, in what Cooperation Jackson calls a strategy of “building and fighting.”
You are invited to join us for the first annual Weelaunee Food Autonomy Festival March 10-13th.
Together we will build our capacity in the forest by meeting each other, planting hundreds of fig, pawpaw, and persimmon saplings, grafting onto callery pears, and sharing in a variety of food-autonomy workshops and discussions.