Youth Food Sovereignty Congress
In June of 2018, MAʻO Organic Farms engaged HACBED to plan a convening of youth voices on the topic of food sovereignty among indigenous populations. HACBED worked alongside four of MAʻO’s Hoʻowaiwai Youth Leadership Training (HYLT) interns to plan and organize the Hoʻōla ʻĀina Youth Food Sovereignty Congress (YFSC).
The Hoʻōla ʻĀina Youth Food Sovereignty Congress (YFSC) brought together ten delegations over four days to launa (meet with), mālama ʻāina (care for the land), and practice deep listening, learning, and collaboration. These four days challenged the ʻōpio and their makua (adult allies) to think critically about each of their unique roles in our food systems, as well as the broader implications of their work should a collective call to action occur. This work took place through large group circles, individual reflection, facilitated conversations, panel discussions, ʻāina work, and talk story. The intended outcome of this congress event was the collaborative development of a Youth Food Sovereignty Statement.
The Youth Food Sovereignty Statement was developed with the intention of existing as a living document or expression to inspire others to reshape the conditions of our food systems. This statement illustrates a vision of a world that responds to the needs of both the people and the ʻāina (land). There was much care taken to ensure the end product, the Youth Food Sovereignty Statement, captured the ʻike (knowledge) and manaʻo (thoughts) of the ʻōpio (youth) and their communities. After a rigorous planning process, a format was decided upon and conversations were facilitated. The Youth Food Sovereignty Statement was then formed, rehearsed, and presented by the ʻōpio at the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) Conference.
Both events were intended to uplift, connect, and empower young ʻāina-based practitioners of Hawaiʻi as well as other First Nation youth from the continental U.S. and Canada. On the closing day of the SAEA Conference, the ‘ōpio (youth) recited the Youth Food Sovereignty Statement of Intent to the larger SAEA conference as a call to action by the youth and moku (district) food communities here in Hawaiʻi and abroad. The hope is that the Youth Food Sovereignty Statement will continue to inspire the delegates, ʻāina-based practitioners, policymakers, academics, and communities for years to come.