The autonomous self-management of land/food: Genuino clandestino

We civilized men and women know everything, we have settled opinions upon everything, we take an interest in everything. We only know nothing about when the bread comes which we eat … we do not know how it is grown, what pains it costs to those who grow it, what is being done to reduce their pains, what sort of men those feeders of our grand selves are … we are more ignorant than savages in this respect, and we prevent our children from obtaining this sort of knowledge – even those of our children who would prefer it to the heaps of useless stuff with which they are crammed at school.

Peter Kropotkin, Fields, Factories and Workshops

What follows is a translation of an interview with two italian activists of Genuino Clandestino, a network of collectives, associations and individuals who advocate and practice the re-appropriation and collectivisation of land for autonomous, self-managed small scale farming, as an anti-capitalist politics/way of life.  A translation of the Genuino Clandestino manifesto is also provided below, for which I thank Sorana Inibrina. Followed lastly by an italian language video about the movement.


Italy: “This calls for a new paradigm for agriculture”

Written by Giorgio Trucchi | Source Rel-UITA

Practices of resistance and building economic alternatives

Genuino Clandestino is a network of communities and peasant movements that has spread throughout the Italian territory, promoting concrete and practical alternatives to the model of capitalist agribusiness, through the valorisation of local food consumption – kilometre zero – and food self-determination.

Giovanni Francesco and Pandolfini Valente are peasant producers of the recuperated farm Mondeggi, 200 hectares of vineyards, pastures, olive groves, forests, rural buildings and even a Renaissance villa, located between the towns of Florence and Bagno a Ripoli, in the mid-west of Italy.

The farm is property of the province of Florence and was abandoned in 2009. With the imminent sale and privatization this valuable property, a large group of citizens decided to form the movement, “Mondeggi Bien Común” and recovered the property, restoring to it the dignity that this agricultural patrimony deserves.

To adhere to Genuino Clandestino was an almost automatic decision, which led the movement to deepen its knowledge and practices against the appropriation and urbanization of agricultural lands, promoting food production and defending the territory and food sovereignty as an element of autonomy and self-determination.

La Rel spoke with Valente and Pandolfini in the framework of the public assembly of the network NOEXPO [1] “Food and social sovereignty of territories: exchange between practices of resistance and the building of economic alternatives”, which took place in the occupied factory of Rimaflow.

How and why does Genuino Clandestino appear?

Giovanni Pandolfini – It appears with the idea of bringing together communities and peasant movements across the country around issues and principles that promote concrete alternatives to the dominant agricultural model that in Italy that is criminalizing peasant agriculture. In 2010, we wrote a manifesto containing our principles and objectives, among others, to support and spread production practices that safeguard the welfare of the land, nature, biodiversity and of all living beings, counteracting the use of toxic agrochemicals and the introduction of GMOs.

Additionally, we intend to drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, waste water, waste production, and we fight against the exploitation of farm labour and the different forms of slave labour. We also promote and give incentive to the principle of food self-determination through the right to have access to genuine, affordable and locally produced food. We also claim the right to land as a “common good” and as an instrument of political action to produce food, and we hope to build alliances with urban and rural movements that help bring together producers and consumers. Finally, we propose to transform the use of urban and rural spaces based on practices of self-organization, solidarity, cooperation and the care of territory.

In what way is peasant farming being criminalized?

Francesco Valente – In Italy, they have adopted a set of rules that seek to equate the products of small-scale peasant agriculture, based on local relationships and cultures, with that of the large food industry. They are criminalizing our production practices and declaring illegal our products. All this is absurd. Genuino Clandestino arises precisely to denounce and counter this paradoxical situation, claiming our right to continue proposing real alternatives to an exploitative, polluting, profit based and greed driven model of agricultural production.

Against a model based on profit – “Land is to produce food”

It’s a clash of paradigms …

GP – According to the dominant culture, peasant agriculture is wasteful because the only production model that is recognized as economically viable is intensive, mechanized, chemical based, funded by the banking system. This model violates fundamental rights, among others, access to land. Our territories are victims of a real estate market doped by speculation, and this affects and severely compromises productive peasant activity. Frequently, the public sector is complicit in this. Across the country there are huge tracts of land that are abandoned and produce nothing, for the simple reason that, at this time, they cannot be developed and they produce no profit. This calls for a new paradigm for agriculture, because the land is to produce food and feed the living, and not to generate profit.

In this context, what is the relation to the MILAN EXPO 2015 and its theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”?

FV – It’s a clear example of how the dominant system appropriates keywords, content and proposals; how it swallows them, transforms them, digests them, to then propose them to broad sections of the population that do not question themselves about these themes. In this sense, working in networks assumes a vital importance for the future of this country and of the whole planet. We should continue to experiment with forms of resistance and to build real alternatives to an economic model that has failed.

[1] A network of organizations and movements opposed to the realization, from the 1st of May to 31st of October 2015, of the mega event MILAN EXPO 2015, whose theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” Paradoxically, the activities will be developed on an area of over 100 hectares of land which up to 4 years ago, were intended to grow food and, soon, will be urbanized and privatized.

The Genuino Clandestino manifesto (20/04/2014) …

Community in struggle for food self-determination

Genuino Clandestino was born in 2010 as a communication campaign to denounce a set of unjust rules that equates the processing of peasant produced food with the food produced by the large scale food industries, thereby rendering the former illegal. This is why, from its beginnings, it has called for the freedom to transform the peasant’s produce, restoring a right confiscated by the neoliberal system.

This campaign is now transformed into a network of mobile ties between individuals and communities in becoming; and in addition to its initial demands, it proposes concrete alternatives to the existing capitalist system via different actions:

• To construct territorial communities who practice assembly based democracy and who define their own rules through shared and common choices;

• To sustain and defend peasant agriculture that protects the well being of the land, of the environment and of living beings, starting with the exclusion of fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms; that reduces to the minimum gas emissions from greenhouses, sewage and waste, and which eliminates the exploitation of labour;

• To practice, inside the circuits of the local economy, transparency in the production and the distribution of food via participatory self-control, which frees the farmers from agribusiness and from official systems of certification; and which renders their environmental responsibilities and cost determination locally visible;

• To sustain via political practices (such as direct-sales markets and purchasing groups) the principle of food self-determination or rather the right to real food, that is economically accessible and that comes from the lands in which we work;

• To safeguard the agro-food heritage putting an end to the process of biodiversity loss and of mono-cultural leveling;

• To sustain practical ways of ‘access to land’ which claim the land as a ‘common good’, as a right to cultivate and produce food, endorsing experiences of returning to the land as a life choice and an instrument of political action;

• To sustain and defend civic and practical choices of resistance against the dominant system

• To construct an alliance between urban movements, individual citizens and rural movements, which is able to reconnect city and country, surpassing categories of producer and consumer. An alliance with the aim of transforming the use of urban and rural spaces on the basis of the practices of self-organisation, solidarity, cooperation and care for the territory;

• To sustain local communities in their struggle against the destruction of their living environment;

Genuino Clandestino is a movement with an identity deliberately undefined. Within it exist individuals and communities in the making, it is open to everyone; it distrusts hierarchies and spokespersons and does not require any residence permit or citizenship rights, and is proud of being Clandestine and it will struggle and existence with or without the permission of the Law.

Whoever recognizes themselves in the principles of this manifesto can spread and use the same to defend their actions.

Genuino Clandestino is an anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-sexist movement.


Genuino Clandestino on film …


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2 Responses to The autonomous self-management of land/food: Genuino clandestino

  1. i cannot find this quote in the text ‘fields, factories, and workshops’. is this a misnomer or what?

  2. Julius Gavroche says:

    Kropotkin’s Fields, Factories and Workshops, Transaction Publishers, 1993, pages 239-40.

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