The Food4Thought. Food Sovereignty through Agroecology Programme has been a localised response to rural food security, via Food Gardens and Community Cooperatives. Leading to commercially viable, locally certified, organic farmers and produce. This program has been implemented partly through the CWP program, managed by Food 4 Thought NPC in Stanford, Overberg.

Food 4 Thought has since the COVID crisis began, grown the Agroecology program to service numerous community managed Street Kitchens that serve approximately 1000 daily meals to the Food insecure Households within the Municipal Ward.

PGS 10 key features

  1. Grassroots Organization – managed horizontally and with equal participation

  2. Seals or labels providing evidence of organic status. 

  3. A commitment document, e.g. a farmer’s pledge stating agreement with the established norms. 

  4. Clear and previously defined consequences for non-compliance 

  5. Mechanisms for supporting farmers to produce organic products and be recognized as organic farmers

  6. Mechanisms to verify farmer’s compliance to the established norms and systems of production

  7. Documented management systems and procedures

  8. Principles and values that enhance the livelihoods of farming families and promote organic agriculture 

  9. Suitable to smallholder agriculture

  10. Norms conceived by the stakeholders through a democratic and participatory process

PGS six basic elements:

1. Shared vision
A PGS community share a vision – one based on shared need and their commitment to the principles of PGS and organic agriculture.

“Participatory Guarantee Systems subscribe to the same ideals that guided yesterday’s pioneering organic farmers. PGS programmes require a fundamentally ecological approach to agriculture that uses no synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers or GMO’s and further sustains farmers and workers in a cradle of long-term economic sustainability and social justice. The primarily local and direct market focus of PGS programs encourages community building, environmental protection and support to local economies.” IFOAM – Organics International

2. Participation
A community exists when there is “active involvement of people in the issues which affect their lives”. It is a process based on the sharing of power, skills, knowledge and experience. (Community Development Foundation UK)

All members of a PGS participate in the work of the group in the following ways:

In the development of the processes and procedures that guide the group; the organic standards they choose to develop or adopt; and the consequences for non-compliance;

In the farm visits – farmers and other stakeholders visit the farms to assess compliance with the organic standards;

In the administration – documenting the farm assessment; developing certificates confirming farmers’ compliance with their chosen organic standards; logging planting and harvesting records;

In the marketing – communicating the effectiveness of PGS as a system of integrity.

3. Transparency
The system is open to scrutiny by all stakeholders – farmers, NGOs, markets, consumers – how it works and according to what criteria.

It is open to the customers – they after all, are eating the food that the farmers are growing. They are invited to visit the farms.

It is open to all farmers in the group. The transparency within the community of farmers ensures compliance with the organic standards adopted by the group.

This transparency does not mean that a farmer’s intellectual property is compromised – just that the systems and processes are transparent, understood and complaint with organic principles.

Transparency ensures integrity.

4. Trust
The farm visits, the annual PGS group meetings, the seed exchanges, the knowledge exchange, the regular contact with customers – all of these interactions between stakeholders builds trust – trust in the organic integrity of the products and trust in the system of assurance

5. Learning Process
The conversations, questions and revelations during farm visits increase the knowledge of the group – they share solutions and problems – they share success and inventions.

Customers too share in this knowledge exchange – they are educated in the process of PGS – they may join farm visits and learn more about their food – how it is grown and what the challenges are. They are often informed and share their knowledge with the group.

Indigenous knowledge is shared between members of different cultures.

As a group, the farmers can more easily access innovations and developments in the organic agriculture sector.

All participants in the group are enriched by their association.

6. Horizontality
PGS groups have a flat organisation structure. Control is never centralised

Horizontality supports the group as a living organism. The PGS group constantly responds and adapts to the participation and actions of all of its members.

No one individual or organisation is in control – the group is defined by its members. They distribute the work of the group amongst those best suited to the particular skills required. They are all responsible – they are all accountable. Success is in the hands of the group.

The experiences of each individual are communal.