New Venture Fund
Smallholder farmers grow over 70% of food consumed globally, and have the potential to lead the way in building healthy ecosystems, livable incomes, improved nutrition, and increased yields per hectare. There is growing evidence (from IAASTD, IPES-Food and others) that agroecological principles can and should be the cornerstone of productive, sustainable and fair food systems. In contrast, the current industrial food system, while producing much food, also feeds an epidemic of diabetes and obesity. Its fossil fuel dependence pumps out more than a quarter of all greenhouse gases. Industrial agricultural practices have contributed to the degradation of forests, farmland and water sources, massive biodiversity loss, and human rights violations through such practices as land-grabbing. The unstable markets and prices inherent in a globalized food system have provoked social crises.
Through providing grant funding to collaborating organizations of farmers, researchers, and sustainable food system advocates, the AgroEcology Fund seeks to strengthen the evidence base demonstrating the effectiveness of agroecology as the pillar of sustainable food systems. At the same time, we are fully aware that presentation of evidence will not be adequate to usher in change. Economic and political interests in maintaining the current unsustainable system are powerful and entrenched. For that reason, we seek to support a growing agroecological movement that engages farmers, consumers, scientists, policy makers and more who can use this evidence base in creative ways, including creative communications campaigns, advocacy initiatives, agroecology schools and as applied on pilot farms.
Outputs and Outcomes:
The AgroEcology Fund’s vision and method align extremely well with CCRP’s support to, “collaborative agroecological systems research and knowledge-sharing that strengthen the capacities of smallholder farmers, research institutes, and development organizations”. This grant aligns with our TOC focus areas of AEI-centered research and moving agricultural R+D systems, by building bridges across science, practice, movement as well as valuing diverse knowledge systems key to AEI and related research. It also makes way for credible influence and contextualized scaling by giving CCRP a seat at the table with other funders, learning from them and sharing with them our learnings from McKnight funded work. Adding an additional $15,000 to the grant over the two years would allow the AEF to participate in the newly emerging innovation around global systems change evaluation (Blue Marble Evaluation). The funds would be used to support the time of the AEF learning and evaluation consultant, along with the executive director and executive committee, to participate in the global systems change (Blue Marble Evaluator) cohort as a test case for developing this newly emerging evaluation approach.