SITUATION BEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN
São Paulo’s East Side stands out as grim sprawl of poverty and violence within Brazil.Some 3.3 million people (33% of the city’s population or 17.76% of the metropolitan region’s whole population) live in the East Side. Though located in the metropolitan region, poor social conditions, precarious road access and low economic activity keep the East Side segregated from the rest of the metropolis. The bulk of the social exclusion affects teenagers and the middle-aged population, who are the most affected by chronic lack of work. The East Side’s population is formed mostly of migrants from Brazil’s poorer North eastern states in search of job opportunities and better living conditions. Dwellers of these communities try to make a living through temporary jobs requiring low or no skills, such as car washers, housekeepers,mason’s hands, janitors, day laborers and so on. Yet most of the area’s workforce is unemployed and, often times, the distribution of food baskets by the City is the only source of nourishment for many families.
ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
1. Set up income-generating community gardens in the city of São Paulo aiming to promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged communities and individuals through skills-building and job- and income-generation.
2. Foster food education to tackle nutritional deficiencies of poor communities.
3. Introduce environmental and sanitary education building on local contexts.
4. Set up small processing units for produce harvested.
5. Create and implement mechanisms to stimulate producers to process value-added fresh vegetables and fruits.
6. Foster the organization of urban farmers’ associations and cooperatives targeting the marketing of their produce.
In all initiatives, Cidades Sem Fome uses a participatory community educator method. We train involved community members in technical—or “hard”—skills as well as “soft” leadership skills. They are then responsible for training newly involved community members. In this way, we keep staffing costs low and build greater capacity and resiliency among the communities in which we work.
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
Cities Without Hunger seeks to use public and private vacant land for the implementation and development of vegetable gardens. In this way, we provide needy communities with resources for professional training and income generation through the marketing of products obtained from participants’ projects. Our project also aims to combat malnutrition and improve quality of life of these communities by facilitating access to safe and nutritious food and bringing environmental benefits to the geographical community. Our work is aimed mainly at providing alternatives for the economic development of these communities while minimizing the social, health, and environmental conditions they face.
Cidades Sem Fome mobilizes these communities through trainings associated with community-run vegetable gardens in vacant lots and underutilized areas. These guarantee a source of income generation, utilization of otherwise idle energy(especially that of women and the elderly), the supply of fresh organically-produced food, and an ability to boost the self-confidence of those involved. We also seek to encourage and disseminate cooperative principles and environmental awareness through workshops and practice of Environmental Education. Calls, therefore, act positively on issues with relevance to social, economic and environmental factors.
The creation and maintenance of these gardens provides a vital systematic generation of income through the sale of fruits and vegetables produced by the project, an aggregated value of these products after processing and the formation of cooperatives or associations to run production centers. By creating opportunities to earn income independently and offering professional training, the project also provides tools that enable a break in the welfare cycle on which many families in these communities depend due to the lack of economic opportunities.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
The funds for the work of Cities Without Hunger comes from participation in public bids, awards, multilateral organizations, embassies and consulates, private companies and foundations in the United States and Europe. All funds are managed by Cities Without Hunger staff, together with the beneficiaries of the project (specifically women involved in community garden and marketing projects).
Today,the "Cities Without Hunger Project / Community Gardens" has the support of various institutions and bodies of the 3 spheres of government(municipal, state and federal), as well as national and international funding for social projects such as the IAF - Inter-American Development Foundation (USA), which is a foundation that funds projects for human development worldwide. The project "Cities Without Hunger / Community Gardens" was included in the Petrobras Zero Hunger Programme - Selection of Public Social Projects in 2005, which had 2232 projects registered in all regions of Brazil and only 72 projects have been effectively dealt with the sponsorship of this institution, which was renewed in 2008 and is under negotiation now for a third renewal in 2010. The project also has financial support from the Caixa Economica Federal, which has provided investment of resources in the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. We are developing projects to raise funds internationally and managed to arouse interest in a partnership bythe University of Tübingen (Germany) and University of Amsterdam (Netherlands),and private groups in these countries.We also count with the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Brazil-Germany the city of São Paulo, where the work of negotiation for the implementation of partnerships are at an advanced stage.
eloware a series of tables describing the ways in which we spend our financialresources:
Description Item Quantity (Monthly) Total Cost in US$
costper itemUS$ (36 months)
1. Consulting and technical staff
1.1Coordinator 01 1,250.00 45,000.00
1.2Farmingtechnicians 02 810.00 58,320.00
1.3Monitors/Helpers 03 465.00 50,220.00
2.1Backpacksprayer unit 01 120.00 120.00
2.2Backpacktrimmer unit 02 1,275.00 2,550.00
2.3Waterpumps unit 05 860.00 4,300.00
2.4Farm tractor with implements:
plows,mowers,etc. unit 01 52,093.00 52,093.00
2.5Pickup truck withtrailer unit 01 48,900.00 48,900.00
2.6Truck for transport of
vegetablesfrom thegardens unit 01 38,235.00 38,235.00
3.1Shovel unit 100 11.62 1,162.00
3.2Hoe unit 200 11.62 2,324.00
3.3Rake unit 50 9.30 465.00
3.4Spade unit 100 13.95 1,395.00
3.5Fork unit 50 11.62 581.00
3.6Wheelbarrow unit 50 37.20 1,860.00
3.7Wateringcan unit 50 9.30 465.00
3.8Irrigationsystem unit 10 2,510.00 25,100.00
3.9Vegetableseedlings box 2,000
3.10Fruit seedlings unit 500 9.30 4,650.00
3.11Organiccompost ton 50 295.00 14,750.00
3.12Lime ton 10 83.72 837.20
3.14Variousseeds kg 25 41.17 1,029.25
3.15Greenhouses unit 03 10,588.00 31,764.00
3.16Implement one small
anagro-industry unit 01 20,588.00 20,588.00
3.17Construction of a
gardening-schoolcentre unit 01 24,705.00 24,705.00
4. Administrative Expenses
4.1Fuel and officeexpenses 37,800.00 37,800.00
5. Professional Training
5.1 Courses, workshopsand trainings 22,337.75 22,337.75
Subtotal (E) 22,337.75
TOTAL US$ (A+B+C+D+E)
The primary economic activities of the city of Sao Paulo are industry and services. Thus, getting to a point at which local authorities and community members would help to identify the benefits to vulnerable communities that an agricultural project could provide was a major challenge.
In relation to the neighboring communities, the responses to the original plans of Cities Without Hunger were highly diverse. These ranged from comments that expressed hope and faith in the outcomes of our projects to the oft-heard"it cannot work."—a supreme doubt that agriculture can take place in a major urban area. Thus, the biggest hurdle was to overcome the doubt of the neighborhoods around the garden sites in the sustainability of the project.
We held extensive community meetings to dialogue with community members to listen to their concerns and help them to understand that food production is possible in any area and soil type. Furthermore, community members doubted that the gardens could subsidize their monthly earnings, reduce their household expenses,and improve their health.
In order to overcome these challenges, we invited the community to form a committee composed of representatives of public institutions, popular organizations, the NGO's operating in the region and representatives of the beneficiaries. This committee had (and continues to have) the task of selecting families who will participate in agricultural activities and of coordinating participatory planning to implement the work plans developed by urban farmers.
Committee activities fall under two classifications: formal (meetings and lectures) and information (meetings and training). The project aims to further foster participatory management through awareness of the project participants,encouraging and strengthening their capacity to intervene in systematic community issues and to value their contributions in solving local problems.Thus, beneficiaries learn to recognize themselves as active players in urban governance and the quest to better their quality of life.
Participation in “chat rooms” and in community decision-making and negotiations with local authorities provides an opportunity for community members to participate in the formation of principles and actions that increase their social inclusion and the realization of a participatory governance.
All the actions designed in the work plan of the gardens are judged by its members at the point of completion and are brought to the table for discussion and re-alignment as soon as the committee identifies a problem in the process. Evaluation meetings between the managers take place monthly for the evaluation of projects. When issues arise, additional meetings are held to expedite the process of ameliorating these problems.
Quantitative: Held 6 sensitization workshops involving 180 people, consisting of 6 local committees and a regional commission in the areas of vegetable gardens; made 6participatory diagnostic workshops involving 120 people; Accomplished workplans involving 120 people; recovered from 21 soil areas where the project was developed; deployed 21 composters and / or worm farm; production of biofertilizers consolidated management practices used in organic gardens; built 5 greenhouses; conducted 4 courses in agro-ecology pagricultores involving 80cities; held 2 sensitization workshops involving 60 people; held 3 courses on the implementation of agro-industries and 1 workshop to prepare a marketing plan and advertising the products of urban farmers to be marketed; involving 80 farmers in all areas; held 1st workshop on rural credit involving 25 urban farmers; built 10 market stalls; 2 vehicles purchased; held 2 workshops associations / cooperatives involving 50 urban farmers.
The fight against hunger and malnutrition through urban agriculture has created job opportunities and income generation, especially for the unemployed through the development of agricultural activities in public areas or private land idle. We developed regional resources and capabilities to further job opportunities and income generation; have increasd the empowerment of urban farmers in agroecology; increased the preservation of green areas and the use of urban voids; have kept land cleared and in use for agricultural production; avoided the accumulation of trash and debris or overgrowth of weeds; constructed spaces for the cultivation of vegetable gardens; fostered and maintained biodiversity; improved nutritional status of the affected population based on encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants and vegetable gardens; trained in nutrition education, diet and alternative nutrition; fostered the rescue and systematization of popular knowledge about food, health and agro-ecology; empowered community members through training to enable a learning enhancer of income generation;promoted environmental education through training in the management of agriculture with techniques that avoid the use of predatory practices in the middle environment and natural resources; raised and increased awareness of environmental conservation activities; established mechanism for the training of beneficiaries to bring improvements in hygiene products and in understanding the concept of hygiene of urban farmers; established a marketing and communications strategy that capitalizes on the different characteristics of these products, seeking to increase its market appeal; helped farmers with obtaining credit mechanisms from the city of Sao Paulo and its metropolitan area; improved marketing and identifying distinct market spaces for urban farmers; participation of project beneficiaries in organizing joint bodies (associations / cooperatives) in order to encourage work;encouraged the community organization and collective work of the selected families in order to strengthen their social awareness, as well as its development, empowerment and autonomy for the future.
1)We evaluate our programs by means of performance indicators, such as:
1.1 Food, basic needs - by means of verification as interviews, questionnaires,we identified the improvement and diversification of the diet of the beneficiaries and their dependents, changes in eating habits with the use of more vegetables in their daily diets. The power of the beneficiaries also improved from training processes to improve handling and food preparation.
1.2 Application of Knowledge - Training - by means of verification and list of participants in the courses, trainings and workshops of the project, encourages entrepreneurship training for the sustainability of the project.
1.3 Income, employment and income - through interviews, we found that increased income generation, also improved the quality of life of beneficiaries and their dependents, and influence in strengthening the economy of the community in which they live.
Business Strategy - Building on the existence of a legal framework in the municipality--the PROAURB, or Urban Agriculture Program in São Paulo—we encourage the use of idle areas for food production. Todayngs are held to expedite the process of ameliorating these problems.armaceutical medications listen to their concerns and h in Sao Paulo,a considerable proportion of the public is seeking alternatives to our current patterns of food consumption. As a result, there is a growing demand for food grown on in organic soil that is produced in a socially- and economically- just and sustainable system of production and marketing. The community participants focus their vegetable and fruit marketing strategies of vegetable products on this growing public consciousness, which is concerned with a healthier diet and sensitized with social issues, such as increasing the income of producers, direct purchases and strengthening the communities where the project is being developed.
The focus on the inclusion of beneficiaries in programs for direct sales includes-programs to purchase food from the federal government in providing products for school meals, sales in local fairs and markets, provision of local and regional grocery stores and sales directly in the garden for residents of communities around the gardens. The resale value of R $ 0.58 stipulated in financial feasibility studies proves a good profit margin and allows for even more value-added re-sale value by definitely of being the home-grown crops produced without the addition of any chemical fertilizer or pesticides.
Strategy and Sales Volume:
Provision for feeding programs – 5%
Supplies for school meals – 10%
Sales in local fairs – 10%
Supply to local grocery stores - 10%
Direct sales to neighborhood residents – 65%
The strategy was planned and constructed in order to incorporate the development initiatives of solidarity consumption, and aims at the elimination of intermediaries in sales who aggressively subtract the earnings of beneficiaries.
The production of 4 crops of vegetables has aimed to diversify production and harvest at different times of the year, allowing income generation as early asthe 4th week from the time of initial seeding.
To allow the gardens to offer quality products in quantities that allow for continuous production throughout the year, we use certain techniques that help in the strategy of continuous production such as:
a) Crop rotation :
Definition-to alternate annual plant species within an agricultural area. The species chosen must simultaneously meet commercial purposes and land reclamation goals. The advantages of crop rotation are numerous. In addition to providing a diversified production of food and other agricultural products, if adopted and managed in an appropriate manner and for a sufficiently long period, this practice improves the physical, chemical and biological quality and content of the soil; helps to control weeds, diseases and pests; replenishes organic matter; and protect the soil from the action of climatic agents and the environment as a whole. To obtain maximum efficiency, improving the productive capacity of the soil, the planning of crop rotation should consider commercially-viable plants and, where possible,involve species that produce large amounts of biomass and rapid development,cultured alone or intercropped with other food crops.
b)Adding compost to the soil :
Composting is a biological process for conversion of organic waste such as straw, manure and food waste into humus, i.e. organic matter in homogeneous and stable, dark and rich in colloidal particles. This material is then ready to be used as compost, Its application improves the physical, chemical and biological quality and content of the soil, thus becoming a simple and inexpensive alternative to chemical fertilizers.
c)Introduction of technologies: Drying and automatic irrigation:
The introduction of technological processes in production strategies, will bring opportunities to increase production, without losing the quality of products. The construction of greenhouses will enable the production of seedlings for their own use in the project, which represents a decrease in costs of raw materials. It also has functions such as protection against rain and cold winds, insect protection, increased productivity, improved quality, the harvest of crop, the savings with organic manure, reducing the incidence of disease, better control of irrigation, total use of labor in the garden. The automatic irrigation of the garden provides an optimization of working on the project, allowing the beneficiaries to focus more on activities of production and marketing that goes against the reorganization of marketing goals in the proposal.
Environmental Conservation Strategies:
• construction of composters and / or earthworm by beneficiaries of the project.
• manufacture of biofertilizers by beneficiaries.
• professional training on organic management practices in their respective areas to ensure the conservation and improvement of local agricultural resources (organic matter, crop rotation and intercropping, soil cover).
• Holding lectures on nutritional guidance, diet and environmental education to beneficiaries and the local population.
• improve the management of public spaces and / or private, returning environmental applicability.
• Use organic remains of the gardens for the production of organic compounds.
• Encourage the beneficiaries and the local population to separate organic waste, putting it in the garden composters, using the material later as compost in the beds of fertilizer gardens.
• Collect cans and disposable packaging of agricultural products (cans, seeds,plastic bags of organic fertilizers), to give them or sell them in the cores of material recycling agricultural hall.
• Plant species of plants on the slopes to prevent erosion of soil.
• Use cover plant material (bagasse, straw, dried leaves) to cover the beds where crops are planted to prevent their drying and excessive use of water.
As the venture intends to contribute to local development?
By enabling the poor people of the region who are unemployed, we have used the design of gardens to create job opportunities and income through agricultural activities. Also, we have worked with the Local Commission for the preparation of a participatory assessment and a work plan of the productive activities. This boosts local development through the mobilization of economic,political and social support to form a network of collaboration, dissemination of knowledge and promotion of local development. The promotion of social inclusion of local communities and improvement in indicators of quality of life goes through processes of learning about systems of associations and cooperatives, fair trade and the strengthening of local communities. We systematically encourage the use and the marketing of products manufactured and produced in the communities by community members themselves.
The instruments used to ensure self-management and quality of interpersonal relations of members of the venture include
meetings, trainings, workshops. These enable the beneficiaries of the project to increase their understanding of the cooperative spirit , and therefore strengthens the capacity of such groups to value their contribution in solving their problems, participating in forums for dialogue, community decision-making, ability to negotiate with local authorities, improving their job skills in farming and sales of products (using the mechanism of thebusiness plan), and overall significantly improving their quality of life and autonomy.
With the technology we have today and the experiences that I have gained from living in different parts of Brazil and the world, I would venture to say that any land can be cultivated.
Typical examples are the production of food in southern Germany with temperatures to 23 below zero and the intensive production of citrus in the deserts of Israel,as well as the great fruit and flowers with unsurpassed quality in the northeastern jungle of Brazil.Therefore, I see no reason why we, as a country, should not be talking about potential garden areas in urban pockets and large cities like Sao Paulo. Typical examples abound where the barrier of impossibilities and improbabilities have been broken,resulting in spectacular showings, bringing benefits to thousands of people and most importantly, transforming regions before the loss of powerful economic centers occurs. The big problems remain, however, such as the cost of technologyand land for the production of food, which remains accessible to few.
The economic and historical development of the Brazilian people is based on extractive processes. In other words, we have become accustomed to take from nature what she offers to us. This is unlike the way of Europeans and Americans who, due to different climates and eco-systems, and a longer history of population density, must cultivate their food and resource needs through highly technical production processes.
In Brazil,when the natural stocks gave out in a certain geographical area, the next step was always to open up a new area. Over the centuries, this created a belief that there would always be enough food to meet the needs of the population. This has also been an issue encountered by farmers who can no longer produce food on a field where they have depleted their soil. In Brazil,they have often opened up a new land front for work. These processes and patterns have impeded and masked Brazil’s need to create alternatives for food production, and thus have ensured a false sense of food security for the imaginable future.
Over the years, more and more farmers have discovered that this model of production cannot sustain itself, neither environmentally nor economically. A rural exodus has been ensuing, inflating Brazil’s big cities and therefore bringing ever-increasing urban poverty, ill-health,and crime. As for governments to identify the possibility of reducing hunger by using the areas suitable for growing food in big cities. However, we as a country have little experience in land recovery, especially in large cities.
My experience in founding and running Cidades Sem Fome has shown me, as well as the community members with whom I work, that such land recovery is not only possible, it can be cost-effective and tremendously powerful as an agent of social, health, and economic change. I believe it is only a matter of time before new proposals will emerge that encourage municipal governments to integrate urban agriculture into their regional plans. The people and voters are beginning to understand that programs to distribute food baskets and the like are not the solution to the problems of the poor and hungry, but they only perpetuate cycles of poverty. Alternatives to these programs are projects that involve people in participatory processes, in working relationships and responsibilities creating lasting self-sufficiency and true sustainability.
I have also learned that the notorious violence of Brazilian favelas is directly linked to the lack of occupation, job opportunities, and opportunities for integration in the context of daily activities of society. As we know, violence and unemployment are inversely proportional to the social development of anation. The significance of additional income and the availability of food on the table from and for poor communities can mean a reduction in local crime statistics and a reduction in the numbers of children killed by dietary deficiencies. It can mean the beginning of an evolutionary process in the community, the transformation of existential needs. Exterminating the constant threat of death by both violence and disease stimulates the impetus of survival through the renewal of lost hopes, and thus forces are allocated to individuals to try to change the circle of exclusion and oppression that has kept them disempowered, poor, and hungry.
The project will stimulate the formation of the Association of Small Farmers Urban Family among its beneficiaries, to be composed primarily of persons directly affected by the problem of unemployment and under employment as adolescents,women, elderly people and may get a chance to work and income with the development of the plant community garden. To the extent that these people will be using this activity for their livelihood, may be classified as family farmers and to obtain the Declaration of Qualification from the National Family Farming, which will enable them to participate in various federal government programs in the areas of marketing(schemes of food), agribusiness, credit,insurance and welfare. This association will enable beneficiaries to participate as an entity, the Forum for Urban Agriculture in Sao Paulo, which aims to be an instrument of contribution to the implementation of Urban Agriculture as a public policy in the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo, in other cities from Brazil and in other countries.
The central aspect of work is the adoption of participatory methods in all actions and steps. Participants and their beneficiaries work together in groups and collectives to create their own focus, priorities, methodologies and workplans. Concrete actions and the investigation of agro-ecological processes aim always to involve the largest possible number of families from disadvantaged communities in all stages of the work.