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RIO+20 The Future We Want

RIO+20 the future we want

Brazilian students learn and grow

By Nelson Siquera

Students from a school in Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, south of Brazil.

15,000 students in Brazil now eat vegetables that they grow in their school gardens. Raising vegetables, plants and flowers in the local soil, these students have gained knowledge and ownership of their land. The School Gardens Initiative has become a new education resource for environment in Brazil. 

Inefficient land management and hunger are a reality in many regions of Brazil. To tackle the problem, the country’s education authorities and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have been working closely to expand the School Gardens Initiative. 500 schools in 70 different cities now participate in the project, and 700 professionals have worked with the students.

The gardens are installed on or near school grounds. The objective is to use the space for learning, harvesting and recreation. "The garden is a new teaching resource for our teachers. We will work in an interdisciplinary way, engaging our students in the production of food from the origin, following its development, creating new values," says Olga Maria Dellano, Secretary of Education in the city of Bagé.

school students

School in the city of Fortaleza, state of Ceará, northeast of Brazil.

The Brazilian experience with the school gardens has been an example to other countries. Delegations of 17 countries participated in a conference in Porto Seguro in 2011, to share information and good practices.

Participants also had the opportunity to visit the indigenous reservations of Juerana and Jaqueira and join local farmers for lunch. The meal had added meaning in that 30 per cent of the food served in the public schools there is purchased from local producers.

Education official Najla Veloso explained that the project is not only about building the gardens and using the harvest for the school lunch. “The idea is much wider, with deep reflections about the environmental conscience of the community where the project is inserted,” she said.

school students

Our Lady of Lourdes School, in the city of Farroupilha, state of Rio Grande do Sul, south of Brazil

According to Maria Luiza Rodrigues, project coordinator in Formosa in the State of Goiás, “The students are sharing what they learned in school about the gardens in their homes, teaching their parents how to create one. If each school in Brazil had access to this initiative, it would be amazing”.