In Catachilla and Rancho Nuevo, two communities in the municipality of Santivañez, Cochabamba – Bolivia, a group of people have managed to adapt to the climate crisis, particularly to extreme water stress, through their family agro-ecoforestry gardens. As a collective, they mark a route of mutual nurturing, based on “learning by teaching and teaching by learning”; recovering from their socio-environmental relationship common goods such as water, soil, biodiversity and seeds, as well as food culture. Everything begins as an initiative, induced from different projects, gradually achieving a full emancipation from these external supports. The group is constituted as “Ecohuertos Agroecological Producers” and “Eco-Huertos Agroecological Fair” and, perhaps most importantly, they have taken ownership of their process. This transfer of protagonism, from the project to the self-determined and autonomous process of the community fabric, is a common path that many projects seek to achieve but seldom achieve. To the question: why was it possible to achieve what is so difficult to achieve? Usually, there is no possibility to adapt the project to changing and changed realities, thus ending the project in a failed attempt to accommodate reality to the logic of the project…it seems that here the opposite happened.
Production and alimentation
Originally published on agrecolandes.org/agroquimicos
We are a consortium of institutions linked to applied research and sustainable rural development. We work with urban and peri-urban families and rural communities, mainly with farmers who promote family farming in the Andean region. In recent years we have witnessed the increase in the use of agrochemicals and their harmful effects on the dimensions of human and environmental health. Moved by this concern and by the results of our own research, we compiled audiovisual materials from various academic and non-profit institutions in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz that work to investigate the effects of agrochemicals. We make the collected material available for awareness and education purposes to different audiences.
The Mezquital Valley, in the Mexican highlands above two thousand meters above sea level, 4 hours north of Mexico City, has been for centuries the most important production area of aguamiel, the sweet juice harvested from magueys, appreciated since the times of the Aztec Empire. The climate, with a lot of sun during the day and cold nights, as well as the semi-desert vegetation favor the use of maguey and nopal cactus. The indigenous Hñähñu families, the original inhabitants of the valley, planted maguey
(agave salmiana) and nopal cactus, producing pulque, the fermented drink made from aguamiel and maguey honey, a concentrated sweetener of the aguamiel (mead: an alcoholic drink made from honey). The colony and then modernity seemed to put an end to this cultural work, but there seems to be a rebirth of this ancestral agriculture, rejuvenated thanks to innovation.
“The potato is sad” – this phrase we heard frequently on our tour in the rural area of Chinchero, near Cusco, Peru. Water stress leaves no choice; rural communities, because of the need to adapt water management to the climate crisis, started to plant water: But in order for this resilience not to be directly consumed by an excessive use of water resources by urban centers, it is necessary to understand the necessary reciprocity in the territory.
In the coming decades, humanity’s survival will depend on our ecological literacy – the ability to understand and live by the basic principles of ecology – and it must become a critical skill for policymakers, business leaders and professionals in all sectors, making it if the most important part of education at all levels
This week we talked with the Brazilian scientist Everlon Rigobelo, a professor at the Paulista State University (Unesp), an agronomist and an expert in microbiology, who has a proposal to save our soils from degradation : using bacteria as fertilizer. Professor Everlon’s initiative caught our attention when we met it in a scientific magazine and we found it curious, but talking to him, we understood that his idea is to revive the steps that nature took to strengthen life on earth.
This week we were chatting with Kourtnii Brown, one of the founders and directors of the California Alliance for Community Composting . We talked about a law approved in the State of California in the United States, which invites us to make the planet a better place, and above all to do it, from our home. This Law seeks that 75% of the organic waste produced in the houses and premises of cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego, be converted into the compost that will be used by farmers in the state of California for food production . Some have called this new product, ie home and commercial composting, the “ Brown Gold ”.
Composting is produced with organic waste from homes and commercial premises such as peels and seeds of fruits, vegetables , bananas, food waste, fallen leaves from trees or mown grass in gardens; Kourtnii tells us with total conviction: “Speaking of organic waste, if it was ever alive, it will be again.” These organic products are separated from the rest of the garbage, deposited in special containers and kept under certain temperatures and conditions, so that they do not produce bad odors or mosquitoes and so that the result is a useful compost for growing food .
This Law came into effect in 2022 and is revolutionary in every sense of the word. First of all, and it is obvious, it has the advantage of changing the use of synthetic chemical products for organic products to feed the soils destined for food production. Organic waste provides natural nutrients and contains the necessary microbes for the fertilization and regeneration of soils . In addition, as is known, organic waste from homes and commercial premises is responsible for 50% of the methane gas in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas . Giving them a sustainable treatment alleviates the health of the environment.
But the novelty of the Law is also in its social aspects. Its community spirit makes it different. They proposed that the solution to the problem of waste and soil depletion should not be of an industrial nature, as has happened in many countries, where a large company disposes, uses and markets organic waste. Kourtnii tells us, “With industrial strategies, waste is often placed near low-income communities, and truck congestion can make environmental problems like air quality worse . It can also worsen social justice problems. For example, when they export their “waste” to another community instead of using it for some benefit of their own”. With the California Law the intention is that they be thelocal community organizations that manage and direct the places necessary for the logistics of the program and benefit from the economic resources obtained. The communities represented by their organizations, such as the Alliance in which Kourtnii participates, are the ones who decide how the compost is collected, stored and transported. They also carry out intense virtual and face-to-face educational work so that people in their homes, institutions, or in commercial premises can contribute to the success of the initiative.
The law is ambitious in its goals: they expect that in the year 2025 of the 26 million pounds of organic waste that are produced annually by homes and commercial establishments in the state of California, 75% (20 million) will be composted. Despite its demanding goals, composting is not mandatory for people in their homes or for business owners. The law invites, persuades. For those who are mandatory, it is for the governments of large cities and small municipalities. They must guarantee that the necessary mechanisms exist for logistics and demonstrate compliance with the respective composting percentage.
California’s community composting law is a collective effort where each link: households, social organizations, local administrations, has a commitment. Without everyone’s participation, the initiative can fail. But the benefits are also collective, they are a sign of a new socially and environmentally sustainable economy.
A cow stands in the pasture and grazes, a chicken scratches next to her. This is how many people imagine livestock farming. In reality, however, not all farm animals have regular access to the outdoors. When it comes to hens, only one in ten hens has regular access to the outside. This would change with the factory farming initiative. A more animal-friendly attitude is one of five demands of the initiators.