“Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera.”

“They Can Cut All the Flowers, but They Cannot Stop Spring from Coming.”

-Pablo Neruda

Painted in a solid purple, this quote from the renowned Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, stood out boldly from the side of a garden bed at the River Park Community Garden in Watsonville, California. It was late March, just a few weeks after the shelter-in-place order had come into effect, when two Growing Justice youth carefully planted the seeds they knew would be needed more than ever. Throughout the CAN network, measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic slowly made their way through communities in California first, then reaching various parts of Mexico, and a few months later in Nicaragua.

This year brought one of the biggest challenges to our network: sustaining our relationships to each other and the natural world in a moment where the requirements of physical distance prove to be the only means to slow the spread of the virus. Years of building strong community-controlled food systems demonstrated to all of us that together the CAN network is resilient, and more committed than ever to the struggle for food sovereignty. Over the last months network partners have redistributed native seeds, food, and shared knowledge about traditional medicines; sustained domestic coffee sales by shifting to online platforms; and created protocols for immediate community response to COVID-19. Now the Red Internacional de Agroecología Comunitaria–Joven (RIACJoven or International Youth Network for Community Agroecology) is organizing its first ever virtual Youth Exchange on September 22-24.

CLICK HERE to register for these free events.


Podrán cortar las flores…: Soberanía Alimentaria y Organización Comunitaria ante la Sacudida Mundial y la Pandemia

(They Can Cut All the Flowers…: Food Sovereignty & Community Organization Amid the Global Shakedown & the Pandemic)

In their August 2020 publication, the RIAC-Joven offers its collaborative reflections about this global moment. The publication is a compilation of critical thoughts on the new realities youth network partners see and feel as they renew their deep commitment to moving forward food security and food sovereignty projects in their communities. These unprecedented and challenging times are complex.

In Southern Mexico, the pandemic unfolded within dramatic climate conditions such as the extreme flooding produced by the landfall of Hurricane Cristobal in June, and the constant pressures from state-planned mega-development projects that will drastically alter land use, negatively impacting coffee and milpa farming livelihoods. In Nicaragua deforestation and agroindustry heighten soil erosion, decrease soil fertility, and reduce local biodiversity.

In this publication, youth leaders contextualize the impacts of coronavirus and their response to it from the sentiments, experiences, and aspirations they hold with their communities. They encourage themselves and us to reimagine realities where small-scale farming communities, those very same communities that feed entire regions, can live without hunger, without poverty, with quality education and well-being, without racism or economic marginality, and in sustained harmony with Mother Earth. Together youth have chosen to strengthen the network by creating new strategies for survival connected to well-being and nutrition.

The flowers: “Are cultivation, resisting, expressing new voices, they are the joy to create a world with liberation of communities and with families. With an awareness of a tomorrow that gives hope for the inherited seeds and those still waiting to be inherited.”

They are, after all, the people with deep roots, migrant people, people with deep knowledge, those that imagine a world where capitalism does not govern, and those that together will continue onward. It helps us remember that collaborative work is the source of resistance and this is how springtime will not be detained.

Somos gente de raíz

Somos gente que ha migrado

Somos personas con conocimientos

Somos personas que imaginamos un mundo donde el capitalismo no gobierne

Seguimos y saldremos adelante juntos

Y recordamos que los trabajos en colectivo son fuentes de resistencia

Así la primavera no se detendrá.

We are people with roots

We are people who have migrated

We are people with knowledge

We are people who imagine a world where capitalism does not govern

We continue onward together

And we remember that collective work is the source of resistance

Springtime cannot be stopped from coming.