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Fertile Soil Project (Projeto Solo Fértil)

Integrate agroforestry into the community of Jardim Gramacho,a place that was once known as the largest landfill in Latin America

Photo of Alcineide Magalhães Marques
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Base Colaborativa Rio de Janeiro

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Rio de Janeiro

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Jardim Gramacho, a borought of Duque de Caxias, a city that covers an area of 467.271 km2.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Rio de Janeiro is the headquarters of the NGO I'm part of and my home for at least 8 years. It is one of the most beautiful states in my country, with plenty of natural beauties, biodiversity and culture.Here I learned to be happy with the simplest people, to always smile and stand up in the face of adversity. But here, too, I had the real dimension of the injustices in my country. Jardim Gramacho was the extreme of what can be called 'environmental injustice': all the garbage produced in the capital being disposed of irresponsibly in a small neighborhood in a peripheral city (Duque de Caxias), contaminating mangroves and the entire Guanabara Bay, postcard that beautifies the neighborhood where I live. Despite being 13 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro, society chooses not to see where its waste goes. The most shocking thing is that they fail to consider the people who inhabit the neighborhood, where there is mostly no electricity, basic sanitation or running water. Until today, illegal waste is dumped on the site, despite the fact that the landfill was officially deactivated in 2012. Our project started with the idea of giving some kind of autonomy for food production to these people who live mostly with a per capita income of USD2.59 dollars per day.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Most residents of Jardim Gramacho are migrants from the northeast of the country and have been in the area for less than 30 years. The elders told us how much they miss their childhood, when they had some contact with a subsistence crop. Many project participants reported knowing the food use of unconventional food plants and even the medicinal application of some of them. Although some still maintain the habit of growing medicinal or decorative plants in their backyards, they do not usually grow species for food, with the exception of some tropical fruit such as bananas and some almost spontaneous, such as papaya. The vast majority today depend on government assistance such as Bolsa Família, especially families led by women, or continue to work in garbage collectors' cooperatives.

The economic development of Jardim Gramacho, more specifically in its peripheral areas, was due to the activity of collecting, selling and recovering recyclables, which, combined with the disorderly growth of the neighborhood, led the region to be considered as a pocket of misery. However, the need to attend to this contingent led to the development of an expressive number of bars, biroscas and taverns that serve mainly the collectors and their families, as well as others involved with the activities of the deposits. In these places, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and processed foods are the most sold items. Such a diet ends up generating a paradoxical picture of malnutrition and overweight.

The vast majority of NGOs work with local children, providing school assistance and providing basic food baskets to families. We believe that one of the differentials of our work is to bring an inclusive methodology, which allows the participation of young people and elders, sharing knowledge and giving opportunities for autonomy and collaboration, instead of relying on donations.

Our approach to the community began in November 2019, when we carried out the first intervention on a small piece of land that was donated to us: we removed a large amount of garbage that occupied the place and used a collaborative project design methodology (Dragon Dreaming) to integrate the community's dreams for this project. Community leaders, young mothers, children and volunteer participants were able to share and celebrate the birth of the Fertile Soil Project. Among the dreams of community members, the desire to share what is produced, distribute seeds and seedlings and eat more with plants was common to many. The first statement by Bárbara, a former resident of the community, was direct and clear: “I want this project to be sustainable”. When asked what it meant for her to be sustainable, she replied with great wisdom: “bring health to everyone”. Kiko, the leader who gave up the land for the first cultivation, pointed out the wish that his neighborhood really was a flower garden (“Jardim” means garden, in portuguese). We see the population's desire to give that place a new meaning through a new relationship with the Earth.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Current challenges (2020):

1 - Lack of basic sanitation (sewage, clean and running water);

2 - Dirt, bad smell and smoke, caused both by illegal dumping of garbage and by domestic dumping around houses, which is usually burned in public areas and generates more pollution;

3 - Disease vectors (rats, cockroaches, flies) attracted by garbage;

4 - Violence, parallel power exercised by drug dealers;

5 - Great incidence of chemical dependence (alcohol and drugs);

6 - Lack of leisure options;

7 - Lack of work for the youngest and lack of specialized studies;

8 - High incidence of allergic, respiratory diseases, STDs and AIDS;

9 - Little access to safe and fresh food: Brazil is the country that most uses pesticides in the world;

10 - High rates of domestic violence, lack of female protagonism and gender inequality.

Future Challenges (2050):

1 - Increase in unemployment and social inequality in the country;

2 - Decrease in government incentives for the poorest population;

3 - Gradually decreasing incentives to health and public education, hampering long-term local development;

4 - Evasion of young people to other cities and an aging population;

5 - Systemic violence of parallel power: there is a tendency for drug trafficking leaders to seize any mechanism that generates income for the local population, aimed at what happens to garbage collectors today, who have to pass on part of their earnings to that criminal organization.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.



The proposal of Ecological Literacy is to consider Nature as a teacher to teach us to live on an integrating reality. We plan to work with local NGOs to hold workshops with the children they care for, preparing a new perspective on how to care for the youngest.


We want to work based on the recognition of local actors and their training for caring for the Earth. Initially, we identified Kiko and Luciana's collaborative leadership and their ability to share and take care of the needs common to everyone around them. Methodologies like Dragon Dreaming and sociocratic processes are helping us to design something that integrates beneficial actions for the community and for the regeneration of relationships and the Earth (multidimensional gain relationships). This organization is essential to bring about the necessary structural changes for the transformation of the community: our goal is to work with composting in the first stages of the project, like what happened in Florianópolis (Brazil) through the internationally awarded project “Revolução dos Baldinhos”, which it was born as a solution for an infestation of rats in the Chico Mendes community and today generates vegetable fertilizer for gardens and organic plantations in the city.


We dream of new possibilities of social technologies for Urban Agriculture, considering an approach to reuse organic waste and the use of techniques for the regeneration of the Earth. Rescuing ethnobotanical knowledge through the use of creoles seeds is also a way to guarantee a production that is naturally resistant to pests and more nutritious. Our strategy to face challenges as organized crime is based on the experience of other communities that faced the same problem: working initially with productive backyards, promoting the adoption of best practices in agriculture around residents' homes, which decentralizes production and protects criminal invasions. Sharing knowledge with women in the community about the complete reuse of food and training them to give workshops is something we are already doing monthly through partners, all organizations led by community members.


 We believe that training in permacultural techniques that provide not only solutions to community problems, but also income generation, plays a fundamental role in restore the self-confidence of the most experienced and an alternative of choice for young people constantly co-opted for illicit practices. At the edges of the system, where basic sanitation is not enough, it may be the opportunity to train young people in green technologies, such as bio septic tanks (banana trees can serve as fertilizer for local cultivation), green roofs, keyhole gardens and rainwater harvesting process.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The most significant impact corresponds to the way in which people will recognize the territory they inhabit. The empowerment of people and the health of the community rebuilt from a new sense of cooperation will allow the birth of several social businesses and production chains based on the production of fresh food and vegetables, but also on processed products with greater added value, such as jams and functional foods flours, like tumeric, green banana and passion fruit. Recognizing the wealth that the land shares is the principle for a care economy that will inspire a new way of relationship between the people of Jardim Gramacho.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Agroforestry is life expressed in synergistic connections. Agroforestry systems correspond to the way that indigenous peoples, our ancestors, managed the land to obtain food amid the biodiversity of tropical forests. Today, it is also an exercise for us to see reality from a necessary systemic paradigm, which provides the manifestation of Life in its most generous characteristic: abundance.

Our greatest disease, our greatest challenge and the only source of all our misery as humanity is nothing but disconnection: with the other, with nature, with spirituality, with life. We believe that change will come from love and the ability to be us (interbeing).

We believe that the right to food based on small and medium production, respecting their own cultures and the diversity of modes of production, marketing and management is not only a perspective for the countryside, but an urgent need for urban communities.

We are very happy to be participating in the co-creation of a new relationship between the community of Jardim Gramacho with food, starting from the cultivation, preparation and integral reuse for the health of all.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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friendly reminder the final deadline to publish your currently unpublished submission to the Prize is less than 2 days away! Please click "Publish" at the top of your submission before January 31, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time to ensure submission is eligible for the Prize.