An important rally was held yesterday in Foley Square outside the courthouse in support of a group of independent farmers who are challenging agribusiness giant Monsanto for misusing their patents to terrorize small farmers. Occupy Wall Street Food Justice, Occupy Big Food, and Food Democracy Now! hosted the event and had various speakers address the crowd throughout the morning. Small farmers, students, organic food advocates, environmental science students, and supportive consumers from all over the country were in attendance. Speaking to the crowd, OWS Food Justice member Corbin said, “When we first heard about the case, we asked what we could do to help them. They wanted to know that people in New York care, so we gathered people together to greet them when they come out.”
Here are some of the people they gathered together:
Meet Anthony. Anthony has been farming for 6 or 7 years, and has been interested in clean food for the last 10 years. He traveled from his farm in Redhook, (upstate) NY to show his support. “I feel it’s an important issue that needs to be illuminated. Coming down here, being present, and dedicating myself to becoming educated could help solve some of these problems.” When I asked Anthony what he would say to the farmers going up again Monsanto if he had the chance, he said, “I would thank them for summoning the courage, for speaking up and realizing what’s at stake.”
Meet Jesica Clark. Jesica came from her urban farm in Kingston, NY where she is part of a “renaissance of small farms.” In her post college “what-do-I-do-now” moment, Jesica got involved in the small food revolution. She came down to show her support, and that of her friends and colleagues who couldn’t make it. When asked what she would say to the farmers going up against Monsanto if she could, she said, “I would say good job, you have my full support! I wish I could be in there cheering for you in the loudest voice I could muster!”
Meet Katherine Samy and her daughter, Seren. Katherine is from the UK originally and now lives in Connecticut with her husband. She thinks this is an important issue because there needs to be good food left for today’s children. Katherine found that although more people are anti-genetic modification in Europe, in the States, fewer people know about it. “Here, everybody is a guinea pig for something we don’t know the repercussions of.”
There were many speakers at the rally, all of whom were passionate and inspiring. They spoke from their various places of education and experience. The resounding message from the human microphone was that we must stop just being a society of consumers and reclaim our rights as gardeners. We are in a fight to protect our autonomy, and we must support the army of local farmers and seed growers with our wealth and resources. At Get Dirty NYC! we are hoping to do just that. Supporting our farms is important, and we are proud to be a part of the fight.
For more photographs of the rally, visit our flickr page.