“Within Our Grasp: Childhood Malnutrition Worldwide and the Revolution Taking Place to End It”: Sharman Apt Russell Discusses SFHC in New Book

Sharman Apt Russell, renowned scholar and author, visited SFHC some years ago and captured her exchange with our community and her insights into the world of global nutrition in her new book, “Within Our Grasp: Childhood Malnutrition Worldwide and the Revolution Taking Place to End It”. With this publication comes a chance to gain insights from our stories (as well as broader Malawian nutrition discussions), as well as engage with perspectives from scientists and nutrition experts from around the world. It is an immense pleasure to read her thoughtful and multi-faceted work!

To learn more about the author and gain access to this exciting new publication, visit: https://sharmanaptrussell.com

Credit: Sharman Apt Russel & Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

SFHC honored & recognized by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food

With World Food Day on the horizon (this Saturday, October 16th), we are presented with an opportunity for the global community to come together and reflect on our food systems and their respective effects on our environments; this inherently includes a discussion of the next steps necessary to transform our perspectives of “value” and “cost” with regards to components of our current food systems.

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food embodies a collaborative organizational effort to bring food system concerns (in both social and environmental spheres) to the figurative table with regards to policy discussion. Soils, Food & Healthy Communities has been chosen to be one of their “Beacons of Hope” case studies from around the globe that illustrate methods of increasing the sustainability and resiliency of food systems from within communities. As a part of this Beacons of Hope initiative, a method of quantifying the nuanced profitability and advantages of each diverse system is implemented (known as “True Cost Accounting”).

An infographic embodying SFHC’s ‘True Cost’ Impact, generated by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food (Global Alliance for the Future of Food. True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation. n.p. Global Alliance for the Future of Food, 2021.)

True Cost Accounting considers variables that typical agricultural profitability indices do not, such as environmental degradation and the health of the individuals within the community. This allows a holistic picture of food systems that embodies its effects in their entirety, as opposed to a myopic focus that only accounts for yield.

We are honored to be highlighted in this illuminating report, and hope that this generates the dialogue necessary to shift policy perspectives surrounding agroecological and sustainable farming initiatives from pure financial profit to a more nuanced focus that includes more aspects of these complex and interconnected systems.

For more info and to read the full report, visit https://futureoffood.org/insights/true-value-revealing-the-positive-impacts-of-food-systems-transformation

Democracy Now! features “The Ants and the Grasshopper”

We are SO thrilled to hear that Democracy Now!, one of the most well-known progressive news sources across North America, has released a special feature on Raj Patel’s new film covering SFHC’s work, The Ants and the Grasshopper, which they praise as a “groundbreaking new documentary on the climate crisis and the global food system”. We’re beyond proud of Raj, Zak and the ten years of filming that brought them to this point, and we hope you’ll get a chance to see this powerful film.

To see the film, go to https://www.antsandgrasshopper.org/. You can follow Raj at www.rajpatel.org or on Twitter @_RajPatel. Check out the coverage here!

Raj Patel article on agroecology as a tool to fight hunger

We hope you’ll check out this piece by our long term collaborator and friend of SFHC, Raj Patel, in Scientific American. Raj uses SFHC as a case study to write about agroecology’s potential as a radical vision for a new world: an opportunity to fight hunger and inequality, by shifting power from big agribusiness into the hands of real, small-scale farmers. It’s a detailed, hopeful story!

You can follow Raj at www.rajpatel.org or on Twitter @_RajPatel. You can also find his film (about agroecology, climate change, and some wonderful SFHC members!) at https://www.antsandgrasshopper.org/.


3 New Research Papers: 2021

Exciting and varied new research is available, from our research partners and farmer leaders! From research analyzing collaborative farmer-to-farmer training, to the exploration of exciting new communications technologies as a means of sharing knowledge, we’re proud of the work our team has done over the past year. As per usual, the abstracts are available on our Recent Publications page; you can also reach out to our research collaborator Rachel Bezner Kerr (rbeznerkerr@cornell.edu) for a PDF copy of any of these papers!

Explaining the impact of agroecology on farm-level transitions to food security in Malawi. (2021)

Sidney Madsen, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Noelle LaDue, Isaac Luginaah, Chipiliro Dzanja, Laifolo Dakishoni, Esther Lupafya, Lizzie Shumba and Catherine Hickey

Managing the new kapuchi: photovoice as a method for co-constructing knowledge in northern Malawi. (2021)

Stephanie K. Enloe, David Banda, Pressings Moyo, Laifolo Dakishoni, Rodgers Msachi & Rachel Bezner Kerr

Does participatory farmer-to-farmer training improve the adoption of sustainable land management practices? (2021)

Moses Mosonsieyiri Kansanga, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Esther Lupafya, Laifolo Dakishoni and Isaac Luginaah

2021 Climate Change Report: Thoughts and Comments

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group 1 report was released. This detailed and extensive document spells out what many of us have known for a long time now. We are in a critical and frightening time, as our climate’s warming has now reached an irreversible threshold. However, hope still resides in our control over the severity of the warming, through our world’s response (via energy, agriculture, infrastructure, social structure, etc). Several strategies for both responding to and mitigating the effects of climate change are also highlighted within the report.

IPCC Working Group 1 trailer

In lieu of this development in climate change communications, SFHC’s work embodies a crucial response. Farmers in the world’s drying regions are going to need tools and support to respond accordingly to our planet’s changes. What will food production look like in the coming years? Will we allow current models of encompassing monopolies to dominate our world’s agricultural stage, or will we move to a regional, adaptive and ecologically-oriented approach? Agroecology and its tenets remain one of the most promising methods of sustainable farming, and our community’s transformation through SFHC is a testament to its power. With Agroecology, farming becomes a collaboration with the natural world, instead of an opposing force.

We sincerely hope that this release will reinvigorate necessary dialogue and action surrounding sustainable farming throughout the world, and we will continue to be a hub for information and support to our farmers and community members!

For more info, and to access the report, visit: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/

Film Update––The Ants and the Grasshopper: Critical Acclaim and Continued Conversation!

Since our last update with regards to the groundbreaking film ‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’, (following SFHC leaders Anita Chitaya and Esther Lupafya as they travelled to the United States to have difficult conversations surrounding climate change) we have been overjoyed at the response it has received!

If interested, follow this link to request a screening in your town: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSenKX8CYCSdeGzRvEb3dl8brag_DyNxK3ZD_el4UP6z8nU2Pg/viewform

New Yorker correspondent Bill McKibben sat down with the Anita Chitaya as well as Raj Patel, to discuss her experience and concerns while making the film:


Additionally, the 2021 Mountainfilm festival bestowed ‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’ with the ‘Moving Mountains Award’, an award reserved for the film that most embodies social activism.


A big “Thank you!” to all who are continuing to support this film!

Announcement: SFHC leaders featured in a new film!

SFHC is beyond thrilled to announce the release of an incredible new documentary, The Ants and the Grasshopper (https://www.antsandgrasshopper.org/), directed by Raj Patel and Zak Piper. The film follows the story of Anita Chitaya, who has been a member of our Farmer Research Team since 2001 and a farmer promoter with SFHC for over ten years. This moving, powerful film documents Anita’s journey: opening with her community work in Malawi to address gender inequities and support farming families in building more resilient livelihoods, it goes on to follow Anita’s expedition to the USA in 2017 with SFHC Director Esther Lupafya, accompanying the pair on their mission to share the grave impacts that climate change is having on their communities in Malawi. See the trailer here!

As a film, The Ants and the Grasshopper is both inspirational and deeply moving. As a sobering piece of activism, it calls on those of us with more privilege to take action to address climate change. Here in Malawi, SFHC has spearheaded efforts to not only raise awareness, but also to help build longterm resilience in rural communities through participatory agroecology. Yet our work does not end there. From Malawi, to the UK, to Tanzania, Germany, India, the USA and Canada, our membership, partners and colleagues are leaders and trailblazers in the fight for a just transition away from fossil fuel-intensive industry and toward sustainable, equitable societies. We need your help! We are a small organization and always grateful for donations to support our work. You can also sign up for our newsletter, or email rbeznerkerr@cornell.edu to get involved with our work through Friends of SFHC. If you live in North America, you can join your local 350.org chapter, or get involved with the Sunrise Movement.

The film’s world premiere will be at the Mountainfilm documentary festival in Telluride, Collorado (May 31-June 6 2021). See https://www.antsandgrasshopper.org/ to catch a screening near you, or to request one for your community, school or organization. Raj, Anita, Esther and many more of our colleagues have been working hard on this film for over a decade, and we are so excited to be able to share it with you!

We’ve published 4 new papers!

With our research collaborators at Cornell University and Western University, four of our papers were accepted for publication in 2020. Like our work itself, these publications extend across and between fields: from spatial geography, to ecology, to sociology, to nutrition, they represent a truly interdisciplinary approach.

The abstracts of all these papers are available on our Recent Publications page. Unfortunately, most of them are published in journals with a paywall. However, we are happy to share them with you ourselves — please feel free to email our research collaborator Rachel (rbeznerkerr@cornell.edu) for a PDF copy!

Spatial and Ecological Farmer Knowledge and Decision-Making about Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (2020)
Daniel Kpienbaareh, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Isaac Luginaah, Jinfei Wang, Esther Lupafya, Laifolo Dakishoni and Lizzie Shumba.
Determinants of smallholder farmers’ adoption of short-term and long-term sustainable land management practices (2020)
Moses Mosonsieyiri Kansanga, Isaac Luginaah, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Laifolo Dakishoni & Esther Lupafya
Agroecological practices of legume residue management and crop diversification for improved smallholder food security, dietary diversity and sustainable land use in Malawi (2020)
Sidney Madsen , Rachel Bezner Kerr , Lizzie Shumba & Laifolo Dakishoni on behalf of the SFHC team
Beyond Ecological Synergies: Examining the Impact of Participatory Agroecology on Social Capital in Smallholder Farming Communities (2020)
Moses Mosonsieyiri Kansanga, Isaac Luginaah, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Esther Lupafya & Laifolo Dakishoni

New grant from Eurofins Foundation to expand current projects

SFHC is delighted to be receiving support from the Eurofins Foundation to broaden one of our most exciting current projects, Expanding Food and Nutrition Security Through Farmer Training! This will allow us to work with an additional 500 farmer participants in this project. With this funding we’ll also be able to purchase more varieties of local seeds such as millet, cowpea and pigeon pea, and to sustain regular check-ins from our Farmer Research Team to support new farmers as they begin to integrate our techniques. We believe in building long-term community relationships here at SFHC, and this funding will allow us to continue supporting those relationships.

Funds from the Eurofins Foundation will also be used to improve some of the infrastructure of our Farmer Research and Training Center, the hub that has been the centre of our work since 2017. We’re thrilled to get started on this work!