The Landworkers’ Alliance

Fran Halsall Regather

Partners | Accreditation | Impact: The Landworkers’ Alliance

Welcome to the fourth instalment in a series of blogs and posts about Regather and our partners. Week by week, we’ve been walking you through who we work with, and outlining what our shared role is in creating a better food system for everyone. That’s a mission that sits at the heart of everything we do. And we want you to be confident that when you buy food from Regather, it means you are contributing to local, independent and quality food that doesn’t cost the earth.

This post focuses on the Landworkers’ Alliance, a union of farmers and growers that supports Regather in myriad ways.

What is The Landworkers’ Alliance?

In short: A democratic, member-led union of farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers.

The Landworkers’ Alliance aims to improve the livelihoods of their members and create a better food and land-use system for everyone. Their policies and training come from farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers who have direct experiences of the issues they work on. They are members of La Via Campesina, an international organisation of over 200 million peasants, small-scale farmers and agricultural workers unions around the world. Together they are working towards a global vision of agroecology, food sovereignty and sustainable forestry.

The Landworkers’ Alliance does this in four key ways:

Social Networks and Solidarity. Connecting members through events, farm walks, training and exchanges around the country.

Training and Exchange. Organising formal and informal training, skill shares and exchanges to support members in agroecological farming and land management.

Media and Communications. Improving public understanding of the social, environmental and economic benefits created by members’ work through media output and communication channels.

Campaigning and Lobbying. Increasing political and policy level understanding of the issues members face through lobbying and campaigning to support the infrastructure and markets central to members’ livelihoods.

Why is this important?

Affordable good food is in short supply in the UK, with twice as many people accessing food banks today as in 2016. To combat this, the Landworkers’ Alliance are working towards food sovereignty – a movement to unify farm workers, indigenous people and communities to provide food for people, localise food systems, centre local control and work with nature. The UK’s food system and supply chain is under more pressure than ever amidst the climate emergency, COVID19 and the ongoing destruction of ecosystems. Food sovereignty would bolster rights to land, water and seeds across the country and bring with it a greater diversity of production.

The Landworkers’ Alliance believes that everyone should have access to local, healthy affordable food with communities and producers at the heart of decision-making. They want to see power back with producers and communities rather than supermarkets and industrial processors. Industrial scale supply chains demand huge volumes of uniform, perfect produce throughout the year but are not prepared to pay a high enough price to enable growers to deliver this in an environmentally and socially sustainable way. Currently, when you spend £1 in a supermarket, the farmer receives just 8p. The remaining 92p covers the costs of middle men, supermarket overheads and dividends for shareholders. If you were to spend that pound in a farmer-focussed supply chain, on the other hand, the farmer would receive as much as 76p.

Regather’s role

Regather is part of the Northern Landworkers’ Alliance group, accessing training and support as well as feeding into decision-making. Our partnership has enabled us to attend the Oxford Real Farming Conference, a gathering of the food and farming movement in the UK that brings together farmers, growers, activists, policy-makers and researchers. Regather has also been able to run community gardening workshops as part of the Landworkers’ Alliance’s project ‘Community Resilience’.

The Landsdowne Estate Gardening Club

Since the start of May 2021, Regather has been running weekly gardening workshops every Sunday from 10am to 1pm with our neighbours at Landsdowne Estate. In these workshops, the community comes together to plant fruit and vegetables and then eat a freshly cooked lunch of local, organic produce thanks to our very own Pippa. If you’ve been past our green space on Club Garden Road you may have noticed raised beds bursting with courgettes, peas, beans and herbs. You may also notice that the Landsdowne Estate has three new planting areas: raspberries underplanted with strawberries; strawberries next to the children’s play area; and a food garden at the end of Club Street. All of this is down to the amazing work of the weekly groups, and we couldn’t do it without the support of the National Lottery and the Landworkers’ Alliance.