Sahara’s projects and collaborations have varied throughout the years but, at their core, always aim to leave the world better than it’s found. One of our longstanding and incredibly rewarding partnerships has been with The Gaia Foundation. This laudable organisation is a registered charity that has been working with indigenous communities and environmental movements in Africa, South America, Asia and Europe for more than 30 years. If you are an avid reader of our journal, you will be familiar with their good work.

The Gaia Foundation x Sahara

Where the relationship began, Sahara Director Vic Coppersmith-Heaven shares the story..

“I began an association with The Gaia Foundation in 1989 when the title ‘Spirit of the Forest’ was recorded as a save the rainforest single with over 60 artists participating including Ringo Starr, Olivia Newton-John, and Pink Floyd. It became the UN featured single for World Environment Day. You can view the track here.

The relationship continued and we worked together with the United Nations Environment programme to create the music project for the World’s first International Summit on the Environment - ‘The Earth Summit’ which took place in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. The music project was called ‘Earthrise’ and featured many more popular artists including Paul McCartney, Elton John, U2 and Paul Simon. All these artists were ready and willing to support the crucial environmental causes that the United Nations were making people aware of at the time. It was a fantastic result, as proceeds from the international sale of ‘Earthrise’ helped to support more than 400 conservation projects globally.

Recently I was fortunate enough to meet Guillermo Ferrer, in Ibiza, who is one of the featured organic farmers in the Gaia Foundation‘s ‘We Feed the World’ book. Guillermo’s story is fascinating. As a young man, he travelled the world as a photographer and lived with tribes for many months at a time to gain their trust and take some truly magnificent photos of their life and culture. When he returned to his home in Ibiza after many years, he started a project to regenerate and rewild the denuded landscape of his family home. Thirty-five years later he is now living in his organic paradise farm with 1000-year-old olive trees, ducks and chickens, that he calls his Oasis of Life.”

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The Gaia Foundation | We Feed The World

 

There’s no doubt that one of the few silver linings of the Coronavirus pandemic is that it has forced all of us to stop and consider where our food comes from and to re-evaluate our buying habits. Panic buying and empty shelves prompted much-needed soul searching around who produces our food and how, with masses of people suddenly looking directly towards their local farmers in a behavioural wave unseen since the Second World War. 

Moreover, as we were forced to slow down, many of us took to growing our own for the first time through lockdown. Discovering the pleasure that can be gained from getting our hands back in the soil, tending to our seedlings and reaping the rewards of the harvest is hopefully enough to have shifted the food growing habits of many, permanently.

 

To further accompany us all on this food and farming journey we’re delighted that this November our long-term ally The Gaia Foundation announced the release of their new book, We Feed the World. The result of three years of work, this 300-page photographic book celebrates the stories of the farmers and fishing communities that feed the world, taken by some of the world’s most admired photographers. 

First released as an exhibition on London’s Southbank in October 2018, this phenomenal body of work tells the stories of the smallholder farmers and fisherfolk who produce over 70% of the world’s food. These famers use regenerative agricultural techniques that are resilient to climate change, and offer solutions to many of the world’s issues, from species extinction to the health and well-being of our communities.

 

The foreword to the book is written by the environmental activist and food campaigner Vandana Shiva. She says “Agriculture is the one of the most creative acts that human beings can be engaged in. And the fact that the creativity of the photographers and the creativity of the small farmers has come together in this book makes for a very powerful story.”

Since 2017 The Gaia Foundation has gathered together 47 of the world’s most renowned photographers - including Rankin, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, Graciela Iturbide, Omar Victor Diop and Rena Effendi - to photograph the triumphs and challenges of the world’s smallholder farmers and fishing communities. Hailing from across six continents, communities from Uganda to the UK, Burkina Faso to Finland, are documented through a series of poignant and intimate portraits. Theirs are stories of resilience, of community, nutrition, agroecology, women’s empowerment and the critical role of seed and food sovereignty in navigating the climate emergency. They are also an expression of grassroots resistance to industrial agriculture and allied forces that continue to exploit our living planet. This is a timely and important book which gives voice to the people who really feed the world.

 

We feed the World is produced by The Gaia Foundation and published by Little Toller. You can buy a copy here, with proceeds supporting the food sovereignty movement globally.

Photographers include: Martin Parr, Rena Effendi, Pat Kane, Rankin, Omar Victor Diop, Fabrice Monteiro, Graciela Iturbide, Holly Lynton, Sophie Gerrard, Spencer Murphy, Jane Hilton, Katrin Koenning, Jordi Ruiz Cirera, Kate Peters, Laura Hynd, Pieter Hugo, Stefan Ruiz, Carolyn Drake and Susan Meiselas. 

The Gaia Foundation is an international NGO which has, for 35 years, worked alongside communities with partners across the world to defend and revive the bio-cultural diversity of our planet, with a vision to restore a respectful relationship with the Earth.