The Full Story
Through the implementation of our urban gardens, besides generating jobsand income, we also promote sustainable agriculture in cities. Our production methods don't use agrochemicals or pesticides (only natural and organic ones). Additionally, we use the practice of crop rotation when cultivating vegetables in order not to deplete the soil of nutrients and thereby not cause any environmental impact. The food is produced as well as consumed in the areas near where the project operates, thus reducing CO2 emissions during transportation. Moreover, the management of water supplies is done through techniques such as rainwater harvesting and the installation of surface wells, which generates savings of 91% in irrigation costs. Our gardens generate income for the beneficiaries of the project and provide food at fair prices for the local population, improving both social and food security in the entire region. In this way, everybody wins.
As of 2021, the increase in hunger levels in Brazil was negatively impacted by the pandemic, as in other countries. However, the surge of hunger in Brazil is also a reflection of the ending or emptying of programs aimed at stimulating family farms and food production in urban spaces. According to FAO, between 2018 and 2021, 23.5% of the Brazilian population either stopped eating due to financial reasons or had to reduce the quantity and quality of food eaten. In São Paulo, there are almost 1 million people who live in a situation of food insecurity. The eastern section of São Paulo, with its 3.3 million inhabitants, which represent 33% of the population of the city, is the most affected by unemployment and food shortages. The average Human Development Index (HDI) there is very low. São Paulo has approximately 1,940,089 unemployed people, 40% of which, i.e. 776,035, live in the eastern section of the city. Among the region's residents with steady employment, 33% work in commerce and 41% in the third sector.
Affected by the lack of job opportunities for people of all ages, the population of the eastern districts consists mostly of people who migrate from the northeastern states to São Paulo looking for job opportunities and better living conditions. Residents of these communities earn their living mostly through temporary jobs that require minimal qualifications such as electrician jobs, construction workers, housekeepers, janitors, car washers, etc. Still, the majority of people in these neighborhoods are unemployed, and sometimes the donation of food from the government is the only source of food for many families.
São Paulo's eastern districts also concentrate a large population of refugees (Syrians, Venezuelans, Haitians) who survive in dehumanizing conditions. The NGO Cidades Sem Fome (Cities Without Hunger) aims to promote the implementation of vegetable gardens for the production of organic food in unused urban areas. The focus is to transform these gardens into social businesses, evidencing the generation of jobs and income for the participants as a result. Unemployed and homeless people, single mothers, people with physical disabilities, elderly people, refugees and people
undergoing treatment for chemical dependencies can benefit from the project.
Urban Gardens reduce food insecurity in participating households by increasing access to food – especially fresh, nutritious foods. Poor, vulnerable families and especially their children benefit the most from the increased access to food for self-consumption and the added income from selling the produce cultivated in the gardens. Most poor families spend between 50 and 60% of their income on food, and those benefiting from the urban gardens can reduce this
cost to 20-30%.
Nowadays, overcoming food and nutrition insecurity in metropolitan regions whilst being environmentally and economically sustainable represents one of the greatest challenges for societies around the world. Reducing hunger and unemployment levels while also returning to the land its productive function has been increasingly consolidating itself as the responsibility of social agents, as well as communities and public authorities. The use of available or underused urban spaces through the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants is a future trend, which stretches beyond pioneering initiatives in schoolyards or day care centers.
Agriculture is among the main economic potentialities of many urban and metropolitan peripheral spaces. The proximity to the consumer market makes it an activity with a large growth potential. Urban gardens have a high capacity to generate jobs and income while also allowing the creation of sustainable jobs at relatively low costs.
The aesthetic value of green spaces, the formation of microclimates, the prevention of diseases through a diversified diet and the healing power of medicinal plants are all components of the improved quality of life provided by urban agriculture and urban gardens. Among so many possibilities and initiatives, the development of urban agriculture and urban gardens undoubtedly plays an important role in contributing to the future of sustainability in cities.