Monday, October 8, 2012

Urban Farming in Venezuela


In celebration of Hugo Chavez’s reelection in Venezuela, please meet Sara Medina, an urban farmer from Caracas. When she was 47 years old, Chavez’s Revolutionary Venezuelan government made it possible for her to go back to school and study agro-ecology. Through support from a government agency, CIARA (Capacity and Innovation for Support of Agrarian Reform), she now farms and trains others in inner city communities how to feed themselves.

“One of the main objectives is to recover the urban spaces. I work in small community farms and with communities to develop farms. We teach the communities about the agricultural benefits and the nutritional values from the products they grow. Through the community farms we advise what vegetables to grow and how. We teach them how to control the pests to avoid infestation. We learn from farmers who moved from the countryside to Caracas in the ‘60’s, because of the oil business. A lot of people thought they would have more opportunities in the city, but it wasn’t like that. Those people from rural areas have farming knowledge and we must recover that ancestral traditions and knowledge.

“I work with about 30 or 40 communities. There are a lot of projects. There are the school farm projects and raised bed gardens for people who don’t have any space –only the roofs or a deck. The purpose of the school project is to teach the students about farming. The kids are like a sponge and when they learn about the earth, they absorb it. With the urban family farming, the idea is that they get some autonomy.  The first thing is for self-consumption, so the people farm for themselves. At the same, they give extra products to the food pantry. And then if there is excess, they can sell that at the market for a good price and the money earned goes back into the community for transportation, materials, anything that the community needs.

“The biggest goal is for people to make their own food and be self-sufficient. The problem is that it is hard to change people’s mentality about dependency. They depend a lot on the supermarkets. It is hard to change this mentality. Economics and health are the advantages that people need to understand about urban farming and food sovereignty.

“Through agro-ecology I can give the people my knowledge and my support for the rest of my life. I am obligated to give them the information they need. But, the information is not easy to pass on. It is not easy to get that information to the people. Social struggle is not only in Venezuela, but also in the rest of the world. I think the rich countries have very serious problems – more serious than here.”

2 comments:

  1. Sara is an inspiration to Food Sovereignty supporters world wide! Thank you for sharing!

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