That a demonstration manages to attract over 30,000 marchers is no easy thing, particularly when it is held during the icy chill that is January in Berlin. But every year since 2011, the “Wir haben es Satt!” (“We’re fed up!”) demonstration has managed to inspire thousands of farmers and ordinary citizens to gather in the city and march from the central station to the Brandenburg Gate. The messages of the protestors are clear: less agro-industry and more farms, no to GMOs and neonicotinoids, less consumption of meat and more animal welfare and support for the rights of farmers and for a Europe based on solidarity.
To underscore these messages, on January 20 this year 160 tractors were driven into central Berlin to open the demonstration. They came from all over the country, driven for days to reach the capital, with many of the farmers bringing their children in the cabs with them.
This is the key to the event’s strength: bringing together food producers and citizens. These thousands of people might not yet have managed to change national policies, but they are certainly responsible for dictating the topics discussed at the meeting of European and international agriculture ministers held every year in Berlin around the same time.
Slow Food Germany is a member of the coalition of 50-plus organizations that organizes the demonstration, which together forms a united front for food sovereignty. It is the young people of Slow Food who are particularly active in the event; since 2011, they have been organizing the world’s biggest “disco soupe” the evening before the march. This year 1,300 young people showed up to peel and chop two and a half tons of salvaged vegetables. As they waited for their turn at the cutting boards, they danced to music or participated in discussions set up by the organizers.
The next day, following the march, the voices of Slow Food youth were also heard, as Sebastian Junge and Marta Messa took to the stage set up at the Brandenburg Gate, communicating the messages of our network to the amassed 33,000 protestors.
The Berlin demonstration is a success that inspires us across Europe.