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0 Latitude Food Webs: A multi nodal approach to regenerate Food Systems in northern Ecuador

Farmers, consumers and chefs participate through a collaborative market system to create a network that regenerates the food system

Photo of Javier Carrera
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Grupo Allpa, a farmer-led organization working on ecological and social regeneration in Ecuador since 1998.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Red de Guardianes de Semillas (Seeds Guardians Network), a Network of regenerative farmers with leading farms and projects in all the selected provinces; Gastronomic Ambassadors of RGS, a Network of chefs and other professional cooks; El Wayruro Organico, a Farmer Business Organization and organic store; Clínica Ambiental, a Network of farmers centered in the regeneration of the northern ecuadorian Amazonia; Biogranjas, a Network of farmers in the province of Cotopaxi.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 10+ years

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


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


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

The food basin of Quito, including the Provinces of Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Imbabura, Sucumbíos and Esmeraldas. Also the Galapagos Islands.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We are a strong Ecuadorian network of pioneer agroecological farmers and social leaders. We have confronted poverty and lack of opportunities. In this difficult situation, we have proved that real change is possible when we join our forces through a collaborative effort, developing systems and strategies for ecological and social regeneration. We need to bring this effort to the next level, joining with more stakeholders of the Food System, specially now that Ecuador is going through a hard economic and social crisis. It is our mission to provide the population, specially the youth, with opportunities for regenerative development. 

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.

The Foodshed of Quito is one of the most diverse and fertile places in the world. This however is changing fast: destruction of the environment caused by land exploitation, the imposition of a globalized diet combined with the abandonment of local economies are destroying the traditionally healthy and sustainable Food System of the region. 

Geographically, this region includes the amazonian rainforest, the cloud forest, the coastal lowlands, the temperate highland valleys and the cold highland moors. It goes from sea level up to 4.000 meters. The archaeological record shows us that this region has been connected as a food and commerce basin for thousands of years; this connection is essential  to ensure the well being of the population, based on the access to a diversity of climatic floors with their foods. 

We have included the Galapagos Islands because they are also at latitude 0, because they are economically connected to the Quito food basin, and  because they have extreme food insecurity, with more than 95% of the food imported.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


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.

Environment: The region is in a process of desertification. Annual rainfall has decreased significantly in the last decades and soil erosion is already very evident. In the highland valleys most of the forests have been cleared. The rivers have reduced their size. Solar radiation often goes above 8 degrees, and extreme temperatures are now common. Pests and low agricultural yields are constant  

Diets: Traditionally, ecuadorians had healthy and diverse diets, but in the last decades the globalized diet has gained presence the market, causing havoc in public health. There is still a strong love for traditional food but most youths and people in the city are ignorant on how to prepare it. 

Economics: Local economies have been taken down through centralization and consolidation in the food sector, often with the help of the State. Small farmers still produce 70% of the food in the country, but their activities are completely unsustainable from the economical point of view. Farmer’s poverty is subsidizing the whole Food System. The current market system don't provide with positive opportunities for small farmers and agroecological producers.

Culture: There is a lot of culture still in the Food System, but it is not being passed by the elders to the new generations. The food culture of the region is amazingly diverse, healthy and delicious. 

Technology: Most new technologies coming into the region are of big industrial scale. There is need for the development of small scale and environmentally friendly techs, based on traditions and oriented towards the sustainability of the local economies. Communication techs need to be adapted and owned by local stakeholders. 

Policy: 3 new laws are affecting the Food System, giving total support to big industries and imposing an unsustainable amount of costs and bureaucratic red tape to small producers. We need adequate regulations for organic and small farmers and producers. 

Future challenges: 

If we don't achieve a degree of change in the issues above, food insecurity will be one of the more important social issues by 2050. 

The COVID-19 health crisis is showing us how food insecure we are. This is actually a great opportunity for our proposal. The economic crisis developing now is going to be a real challenge, forcing us to rethink how to articulate consumers who will have less purchasing power. We feel ready for the challenge. 

Climate change is a global issue that will affect negatively any solutions we build up. 

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

Our strategy connects 5 nodes of stakeholders around a common market: Farmers, Market, Chefs, Cultural managers, and Consumers.
Environment: Land exploitation is the main contributor for environmental damage. Our team has been developing  and teaching regenerative systems since 1998, based on the work of pioneer farmers who show successful models. We will provide farmers with certified education and profesional recognition, and  connections to our market system.
Diets: We coordinate a network of high profile, young chefs who love traditional foods, fair trade and agroecology. We also work revitalizing traditional foods with non profesional wise cookers. Together we are developing an organic cuisine adapted to the needs of the modern household, respecting the traditional foodways while incorporating new techniques.
Economics: It is crucial to develop a new market system, under our direct control as farmers. In 2019 we bought El Wayruro, one of the most important organic sores in Quito, and turned it into a cooperative and a market hub to manage a region wide commercialization circuit. We aim to maximize profit for farmers, scale up sales, and improve the variety and quality of the products. We will move food around the 6 nodes of commerce in the foodshed on a regular basis.
Culture: Promoting cultural identity is an important aspect of our regenerative systems. We aim to educate consumers to become active advocates of regenerative Food Systems. For this, we use digital social networks, publish an online free magazine, film a tv series, and revitalize traditional knowledge with social activities that include knowledge keepers. Workshops with chefs, guided tours on the city and the farms, festivals, online education and meetings for cultural exchange are part of this strategy.
Technology: Decentralized communication systems are needed for networking, commerce and community interaction. We aim to develop an app that will help connect the whole system, providing common users with an easy access to information about food production, cooking, educational materials, educational opportunities, producers, cookers and potential friends in the area.
Policy: We coordinate a team of advocates, lawyers and social leaders to push for better regulations, more suited to the realities of the region and the needs of the food systems’ stakeholders. We have a Demand for Unconstitutionality accepted in the Constitutional Court against the Law on Seeds, and now we are working on the cases of the Agricultural Sanitation Law and the Health Code.

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.

Until now all the food system’s stakeholders have been functionally disconnected. By using our expertise to bring them together, we will achieve several goals in a systemic way: improve farmer's knowledge of agroecological production, improve farmers income, supply the chefs with a diversity of high-quality products, teach urban consumers about food quality and food preparation so they consume a more diverse and nutritious diet, sustain the certification system and the technical assistance to farmers through a percentage of the sales, and turn farmers, chefs and consumers into active advocates for a regenerative food system.

This will create a strong sense of community and collaboration, attracting more people in a spiral of growth. The core group of consumers and chefs will expand into several hubs in different metropolitan areas, with more selling points and local activities, and also expand to other cities, creating a nationwide movement. In the countryside, a number of the first group of students will turn into teachers and train new groups of farmers every year; this will change the landscape of food production and regenerate the land and the local economies. Local government will be attracted to join the effort. 

All this will be possible with adequate laws and regulations our group is pushing for. Producers and consumers will be trained as policy advocates, improving the practice of democracy in the food sector.

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

By 2050 key changes have occurred:

Destructive agricultural practices have been banned by law. The region is now dotted with small family farms that practice sustainable agriculture, producing high amounts of great quality food while earning a good income. A transition in which dozens and then hundreds of farms incorporated permaculture designs has led to new policies that promote reforestation and hydrological management of the hillsides and river basins, along with better distribution of land rights and irrigation.

Permaculture Learning Communities across the region provide access to good education and profesional recognition. They serve as knowledge exchange hubs and conduct research, answering to local needs. 

Local economies have developed thanks to the spread of cooperatives and other social capital enterprises that offer products and services. It began with food, but it soon spread to other areas, replacing mass produced global goods and city-centered services with high quality local alternatives.  New opportunities and good quality of living have attracted the youth to the countryside.

New cuisines are being developed based on the seasonal availability of local foods. The spread of traditional knowledge related to food in the previous decades has provided a strong foundation for this. 

The spread of organic gardening has pushed for new regulations in city planning, resulting in a greener Quito that is partially self-sustainable, with hundreds of families, clubs and associations doing urban farming. Food has regained its central role in public celebrations and activities.

There is a strong sense of cultural identity, along with digital access to the Global Village. New rules in digital connectivity have democratized access to learning and provided strong tools for social articulation. Food groups pioneered this movement with systems of food exchange, education and access.

Advocacy has become a common activity, with citizens having a more active role in the constant evolution of laws and regulations.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Conference/event
  • Prize partners

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

Several partners have joined the team, providing feedback from their own projects related to food. 

We have approached  local government officials who work in a project related to food identity. 

We have made a deeper analysis of the questions leading to a more interconnected approach. We believe that this interconnectivity is our main strength. The contributions of all the partners have been taken into account, informing a common vision.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

Red de Guardianes de Semillas; YakuNina; Intillacta; Quito Eterno; Embajadores Gastronómicos RGS; El Wayruro Orgánico; Huerta Luna; Permacultura Caimito; Frente de Defensa del Derecho Alimentario; Pupilas Gustativas; Clínica Ambiental; Hacienda Verde. 

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

This project proposal is part of our vision for the next years and is the result of 18 years working to form and sustain the Seed Guardians Network of Ecuador (RGS), of which Grupo Allpa acts as the legal representative. The RGS is formed by around 110 families, of which we selected a group that live in the foodshed of Quito. They lead projects that  connect with this proposal to form a wider and more complete strategy. As we have known them for years, we are sure of their honest dedication to their mission. 

We started with a group email to present the Food Vision Prize and our proposal to this group, asking who would want to join. Then we went for a chat group with those who signed in to make interactions faster and easier. We are now exchanging commentaries and integrating the different local projects into the vision. 

Rogelio Simbaña (46), Fernanda Meneses (43), Javier Carrera (44) and Daniela Borja (30) are part of the core team at Grupo Allpa. We hold regular meetings and communicate on a daily basis. 

George Fletcher (46), Karina Bautista (35), Claudia Sofía (33), Sofía de la Torre, Paulina Lasso (35), Sebastian Kohn (35) and Nina Duarte (42) are local project leaders and Seed Guardians in the RGS. We communicate on a daily basis through the very active chat group of the RGS. 

Natalia Dávila (39) is an expert in activating culture through events and is in charge of producing our Festivals and other events. Ana Lucía Bravo has been acting as legal advisor for the RGS since 2016. She is an expert in social, legal and political aspects of food systems. Mohammed El Khatib (29) has joined the team in 2019 as Commercialization Coordinator. We communicate daily. 

Adolfo Maldonado (60) leads Clinica Ambiental, a grassroots organization that promotes alternatives to regenerate communities affected by the oil industry in the northern Amazon. We visit monthly.

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

1. Climate Change will make food security more difficult in this decade. Deforestation is a mensurable cause for this. Ecuador went from being a forested country in the beginning of the 20th century to having the fastest rate of deforestation in South America. Soil loss is so extreme that a lot of the land is now covered by very hard subsoil where agriculture is nearly impossible. Water, once over abundant, is now scarce. 

2. Micro climate management is a viable answer to climate change. There is ample empirical evidence that a regeneration of forests with adequate land management even in farms as small as 30 hectares can have a deep impact in the surrounding area, lowering radiation and temperatures, providing refuge and food for wildlife and creating a steady supply of groundwater that turns into raising rainfall rates. A good farm design can replenish soil to a point where agriculture is sustainable again. Atukpamba in the highlands is a good example of this: once a 90 hectares cattle ranch, it is now forested in its majority; landscape design for water management ensures a steady supply of irrigation, there is a lot of wildlife and in the last 10 years there have been no pests or diseases affecting the gardens, pastures and orchards. 

3. Traditional knowledge has been relegated to the folklorical or the anthropological, and the population is losing traditions fast. Farmers and indigenous peoples have very limited access to high education, and the Academia currently does not support the development of local knowledge based on traditions and oriented to the practical needs of the population. This is part of the rural exodus trend. Thus, society has lost an expertise in several key areas needed for autonomy and survival.

4. Market concentration has been exponential in the last 2 decades, excluding more and more family farmers, lowering the standards of food quality and its diversity, pushing for policies that only serve the interest of the big industry in detriment of the whole food system.  

5. The consequences of the COVID-19 crisis are going to be immeasurable. There is already a huge impact on the economy, with rising unemployment and small and middle range businesses severely affected. We believe this marks the beginning of a cascade of crisis, feeding each other: this virus, future pandemics, economic crisis, climate crisis, energy crisis. This is a turning point in human history. But positive consequences can also be huge, if we are smart enough to come up with systemic solutions that empower people locally. There is a rising interest in the general public in autonomy, food production, cooking, agroecology, home based businesses, creating communities. We as a society have the tools today to make a significant change to a more decentralized, localized and democratic society. This and future pandemics may requiere us to build a new kind of global village in order to survive and thrive. 

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

Esperanza wakes up in her apartment in Quito. The night was cold, and she thanks her alpaca blankets. She thinks about the weavers she met in a visit organized by her food group. A life so different, and yet woven to hers thanks to this products that flow in their network of commerce.

On the way to work, she reflects on the development of the city in recent years. The COVID-19 crisis was a turning point; it became evident that citizen organization was needed, that a solid local food system was essential, that communities needed to retake control of their economies, that a different rhythm of life was possible. It could have been much worse, if the citizens had not risen with concrete proposals. 

The city is now greener, with lots of gardens. 

After work, she goes to the local cooperative store. Not for the first time she thinks about the crucial role of these group-owned businesses in educating the population and offering alternatives to the mass produced goods of the past. 

On the weekend she joins in a farm trip to learn about chickens. On the way she talks with an older lady about the landscape: the monocultures have been replaced by a mosaic of meadows and orchards in rotation. Steeper slopes are increasingly forested and wildlife is returning fast. They go through vibrant villages, where the youth is moving in thanks to the development of local economies. 

The visit to the farm is as always very inspiring. Esperanza wonders how in the past people accepted to consume poison-fed, tortured chickens from horrible concentration camps. Now the animals run free and without fear among the bushes, pecking for bugs. It is one of the many strategies that have not only allowed the regeneration of Nature, but also improved the quality and availability of food. Part of this has been the recovery of food traditions, and the fact that most households now produce some part of their food. The future looks bright.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

Through more than 20 years adapting Permaculture to the local realities of the region, our group has developed a lot of the techniques to implement regenerative farming in the region. Our experience has demonstrated that our models and practices can contribute to stop or decrease the imbalances created by destructive practices. 

Our food system will be able to adapt to climate change due to the different life’s regenerative practices we have developed and that will be strengthened along this process. These practices include methods to farm in a sustainable way; to regenerate damaged productive systems like depleted soils, polluted water, sewage sanitation; methods to “sow” water and for efficient use of it; bioconstruction with materials respectful with the environment; and processes to protect, reproduce and circulate native seeds.

These systems are able to adapt because they are coherent with the environmental balance, and the permaculture professionals are capable of transforming and improving them upon continuous evaluations. A deeper effort is needed to cause a bigger impact in a short time. One of our objectives ffor the next 3 years is to implement a program of professionalization in permaculture for an initial group of 150 farmers, with titles endorsed by the State. Thiscore group will multiply the process in continuous three-year cycles. The long term objective is to generate a considerable impact in the local territories, with this Professional Permaculture Farmers forming local hubs in the form of cooperative colleges, conducting education, advocacy, certification and research, functioning as thriving learning communities. By 2050 the exponential growth of these groups will have transformed the agricultural practices, leading an integrated ecological regeneration of the land. This will vastly improve climatic conditions locally, while providing food and income.  This process includes education, practice, protection and ecological transformation. 

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

One of the issues we deal with around nutrition is the little knowledge about the nutritional possibilities of the food that we can grow in our territories. This, combined with a sedentary life, low income, and little time to prepare food at home,turns into a recipe to nutritionally collapse a population. 

There is a strong link between human health and local diets. The foods that are efficient to grow organically in a given bioregion + the cooking techniques developed over the centuries by trial an error to produce the healthiest foods = delicious and healthy diets, easy to produce in a sustainable way. This is the philosophy our group has been applying in our efforts to influence the food system in recent years.

The proposed food system includes an educational process in nutrition and cultural identities. We will use publications and other methods to share this information, especially among  the most negatively impacted populations by the current harming diets. An important step is to incorporate the Food Knowledge Keepers of the local communities. This process will be articulated with food professionals, including high profile chefs that are already part of our network. We consider this as an important action because they can contribute with innovations related to food preparations and new investigations. In this way, we link two important aspects in this theme: community knowledge keepers and academy, ancestral knowledge and innovation. 

Promoting organic production of food in rural communities and affected urban groups  will be the other fundamental factor to transform people’s diets. Our region can produce food the whole year long, but we need people to adopt the correct food species and agricultural techniques to ensure a good supply of affordable food, cheap to produce and transform. By 2050, communities will be able again to be self suffiientin their essential food needs, and to exchange and sell the excedents. By exchanging food from different bioregions / altitudinal spaces, the population will cover all of their nutritional needs. 

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

Regenerative agriculture in Ecuador is labor intensive and very difficult to mechanize. This is an opportunity to create jobs and provide income, especially for the women who are often in charge of gardens and animals in the farms. In our research over the last decade, we have compiled enough case studies to support the claim that small regenerative family farms are able to provide adequate incomes --when given adequate access to the market. This becomes the crucial step. It has to be well-designed, from the bottom up. We have been busy doing this in the last 2 years, and we were forced to begin the implementation by the COVID-19 crisis and the rising demands of food.
We call our system Solidarity Intermediation, a facilitated commercialization practice where the middlemen are employees of the producers within a cooperative, with the mission of creating a bridge between producers and consumers by attending to their needs and opening communication opportunities. This "social capital" middleman manages the efficient growth of supply and demand, presents new products to chefs and consumers, facilitates agreements between bulk buyers and producers, communicates the needs of consumers to the producers.
In the next 3 years we will develop this strategy around El Wayruro organic store in Quito, and the producers of our network working in connected bioregions. Right now we have stablished connections and made test acquisition trips with producers in 6 regions, ranging from 0 to 4.000 meters above sea level. Interestingly, we have been asked by them to  bring products from the different regions and from the store, thus establishing a true circuit where food moves back and forth in a circular way instead of just from the farm to the city.
By 2050 this will have developed into a new type of food chain, with two important characteristics: just one point of intermediation that pays for the costs of running the system, and food production as a part or full time job for more people.
Well before the covid pandemic --in 2015 -- Lloyds of London predicted that a globalized food system increasingly vulnerable to shocks, notably from climate change, will resulted in higher food prices and political instability. For oil exporting countries, such as Ecuador, these shocks play out even more dramatically. Continued weak demand (and a standing oil glut) make financing essential food imports much more expensive —with devastating consequences for low-income citizens. They will be forced to pay inflated prices for whatever food is available, or go hungry.
Our Vision couldn’t be expanded at a better time: just as prices are about to skyrocket and our oil-based economy plummets below our feet, there will be room and popular support for the growth of our Solidarity Intermediation network. We will be able to offer healthy food and just job creation – a ray of hope in the darkness.

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

Culture, through tradition and the different cultural expressions, has to be understood as a way to maintain a relationship with bioregions. The andean culture, as most native american cultures, is a culture of animism and understands the environment with all its natural elements as living beings. Consistent with that, for millennia this native culture has developed a respectful relationship with Nature that leads to sustainable systems of life. 

Currently, several of these practices have been eliminated in rural areas and have been considered unfeasible practices in urban spaces. There is a big disconnection with our cultural roots and life philosophy (way of thinking and way of relating with the natural cycles and the environment). 

In our vision for 2050, culture is finally understood as the most important way to maintain sustainable relationships with the environment. Ecuadorian native cultures, with their different expressions and traditions, allow the communities to understand the role of humans as part of an ecosystem. Societies understand that every cultural expression determines the relationship with nature: language, food processes, production processes, rituals, clothes, among others. Even daily practices are transformed when we understand our role in the planet, not thinking humans as owners of the planet, but as part of a natural system, of an ecosystem. 

Our food system in 2050, in its whole process, will be structured in connection with revitalized and updated ancestral cultural practices of our communities. The process that will be developed in the years leading to 2050 will promote recovering and updating ancestral native knowledge to reconnect with more sustainable practices like: taking only what is needed for every individual’s survival, using everything which is given by the environment to us and not generating waste, being thankful, respectful and reciprocal with the environment, harvesting in ways that minimize impact, always share, understand the needs of other living beings, sustain the others and allow the others to sustain you. These practices have maintained respectul and sustainable relationships with the environment and have allowed its healthy balance throughout millennia. 

The food system process will focus on the following activities, which will be fully developed by 2050: 

Promote cultural processes to revitalize communities’ cultural food identities. 

Strengthen cultural practices of communities that maintain a sustainable relationship with their land.  

Strengthen cultural dynamics that allow people to recover ancestral knowledge and implement them as healthy and sustainable ways of interacting with their lands. 

All this start with workshops with food culture stakeholders, and can be shared in events like workshops and Festivals, via alliances with local governments an educational institutions, and in publications, social networks and videos.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

We believe that an evolution towards descentralized, democratized digital social networks in needed in order for all of us to enjoy the deep benefits of these tools. In the next 3 years, we aim to develop an app that will provide easy access to the food system for users, integrating them in meaningful ways. Let's say you're an urban youth who wants to eat healthy. Do you need cooking tips, a recipe? The app has them. But where to find the ingredients? The app lists local stores and farmers. Local groups exchange excess produce from small gardens who accept alternative coins. Do you want to plant? The app will show you local agricultural suppliers and give you access to beginners guides. Are you looking to study food in depth? The app can link you to learning opportunities. The goal of the tool is to form communities around the different aspects of the food system.

By 2050, our vision is to apply technology as a means to connect and educate people in beneficial ways. Things more complex than apps will be developed, and we consider that technology can always contribute to democratizing knowledge. We know that technology can allow us to reach people all around the globe, and it gives us the opportunity to share and expand our experience and gain knowledge also from others who can be developing things similar to ours. 

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

Right now policies related to food are centered in the realities and needs of big agribusinesses, and this often results in damage to the rest of the food system, specially small family farmers and agroecological producers. We need to create alternative regulations that answer to the needs and realities of these sectors. This includes useful ways to support the expansion of these systems, and adequate mechanisms of quality control. For example, the new food sanitation law completely bans non-pasteurized dairy products, which will kill traditional cheeses that everyone loves and that are an important part of several local economies. Instead, we ask for a regulation similar to those that exist in Europe for non-pasteurized dairies, and for homemade cheeses cured in wooden shelves. 

In the next three years we will continue an open case we have in the Constitutional Court against the Seed Law, and will begin advocacy processes in the laws of Agricultural Sanitation and the Food Sanitation in the Health Code. We plan to collect the opinions of the actors in our food system, especially the producers, and make concrete proposals to help the State generate adequate regulations.

By 2050 citizens pressure arising from practical changes will result in new laws that ban destructive agricultural techniques, protect animal rights, implements mandatory ecological management of the land oriented towards regeneration, levels the market field ensuring fair access to all producers, defends consumers rights to real good quality food, and protects food traditions. 

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

1. Environment strategy begins with the farmers’ professionalization in permaculture, which connects with Economics as they improve their food production and commercialize it through our cooperative market. Diet: farmers become basically self-sustainable. Culture: people revitalize ancient practices related to their cultural experiences, spirituality and connection with nature. Technology: participants use the app to participate in a regional network of information that vastly improves their capacities. Policy: the new regulations allow farmers to produce according to their cultural identities and local realities, to receive support from the State for the expansion of their practices, and to commercialize in a fair way, while promoting the regeneration of natural ecosystems. 

2. Diets are connected to Environment because organic and native/traditional species will be produced in a sustainable way. Economics: the production of good food will also be an option for people to commercialize their products, especially women. It connects with Culture when people revitalize their food cultural identities through their knowledge keepers, and transform their diets into adequate ones. Technology provides tools that promote healthier diets, educating people about food choices and nutrition. It connects with Policy when the new proposed regulations promote access to healthy products. 

3. Economics are connected to the Environment by the creation of our cooperative market system that can be successful and also ecologically sustainable. It influences Diets by making good food affordable, and gives people opportunities to produce food and perceive an income by selling part of it. Technology creates new ways to commercialize through information tools. Policy: new regulations open up the market for small family farmers and cooperative hubs of commerce. 

4. Culture connects with Environment with the processes to strengthen cultural dynamics and sustainable cultural practices with the land. It connects with Diets with the process of revitalizing food cultural identities. It connects with Economics through the processes of revitalizing ancestral practices and providing new opportunities for income. It connects with Technology when it uses information tools to educate people in cultural practices related to food or nutrition and diets consistent with our culture.

5. Technology informs the public about good environmental practices in the food chain, and good nutritional practices rooted in cultural identities. It connects with Economics by creating new opportunities for commercialization. It connects with policy by helping people to recognize themselves as a social group and organize advocacy.

6. Policy connects with all other areas by promoting new regulations that will protect the Environment and Cultural practices, give family farmers a better access to the market for the development of local Economies, promote cultural practices related to Diets. 

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

If the avenues of advocacy become closed through corporate and government control, we’ll need to develop alternative dissemination routes. We will rely on a potent demographic mix – both old and new schools of technology. By 2050 the majority age in Ecuador will be mid-thirties – today’s teens. They will have a deep knowledge of communications technology. They know how to adapt them for what they need.

This generation will create the hybrid, native technology to carry our messages about hybrid, native species that can survive the increasing turbulence and catastrophes wrought by climate change.

What we trade off in losing official avenues of transmission – the centralized, corporate sponsorships – will fuel grassroots communication based on local tinkers, neighborhood maker centers that jerry-rig transmission of our messages, our telenovelas and cooking shows to ever-wider audiences hungry for a sense of empowerment, ways to feed their families and solidarity.

The economic crisis following the COVID-19 quarantine will probably lower the purchasing power of the population. We don't know yet the magnitude of the consequences, and will have to adapt prices policies on the run. What we trade off in losing part of the potential money coming in to support the system we will gain in more people open to start producing their own food and support the growing food communities in an even better way. 

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

Milestone 1, Strengthening the capacities of the actors of the food system: 6 professional training programs in Permaculture completed, with 150 farmers graduated with diplomas endorsed by the Ecuadorian State, spreading the knowledge at a local level and producing food for the commercialization circuit.

Milestone 2, Strengthening the food commercialization circuit: Achieving a degree of self sustainability in the circuit, including administration of the circuit,  a participatory certification system and all core costs like store clerks, rent, etc. 

Milestone 3, Creation of public policies: Significant advanced in the advocacy for new and adequate regulations for small family farmers, agroecological produces and artisan food producers, including policies for support and promotion for this sectors. 

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

At this point, a good number of communities have improved their systems of food production and consumption, having an important transformation and benefit in their diets. Educational processes related to permaculture and nutrition have been successfully carried out and the knowledge has been internalized by the communities, becoming part of their cultures and daily lives. 

There are active Permaculture Hubs and Food Collection Centers / Stores in 6 bioregions, financially self sustainable. Communities are perciving better income for their production and have access to diverse foods from toher bioregions.

A good number of communities in the territory have revitalized their cultural practices related to food and their ecologically based cultural systems. 

The app to connect and educate people in food themes has impacted an important percentage of the population.  

Advocacy has influenced several laws, and now there are adequate regulations for the sector and a more coordinated work between civil society and the government. 

At least 500 profesional Permaculture farmers are working locally and their influence has spread to 50.000 farmers and 50 local governments.

500 restaurants and chefs connected to the network are active as partners and are buying from our market system.

5 strong groups of consumers are engaged as food communities in the urban area.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

We will invest in the human, technological and transport infrastructure necessary to carry our vision into real life:

- Education for farmers: builds the human capacity in rural centers that serve as the catalysts for this new regenerative food cycle. Farmers will be empowered to adopt new agricultural practices and technologies to increase productivity and ensure the quality of their products, and to form local hubs of development and exchange.

- Marketing and administration for the commercialization system:  the pivotal strategy to create a food supply cycle with two important characteristics: a single point of intermediation pays for system costs and food production provides increases employment that imparts shared profits.
Importantly, our Solidarity Intermediation system invests in ‘social capital’ intermediaries critical to the full rotation of this food cycle – we are transforming the supply ‘chain’ into a continuously flowing circle based on constant feedback between supply and demand; between products and chef and consumers; and bulk buyers and producers.

- Initial transportation costs: ensure the efficient flow between farmers and consumers; rural nodes and urban centers; stores and neighborhoods.

Access to capital: finances the communication necessary to unite different sectors, drive public participation and influence socio-cultural changes and public policy. New tools will include multiple advocacy platforms, from grassroots meetings to long-term radio and television shows; App development; publications and events; and cultural food identity campaigns.

- Advocacy expenses for new regulations.

- App development and management to connect food stakeholders.

- Publications and public events like Festivals. Inline education platform.

- Revitalization of cultural food identities.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

We would like to be an example of how self-organized citizens, including farmers, professionals and consumers, can bring positive change to the world: by influencing policies, creating a social capital market that works for the common good, revitalizing communities and local economies, building systems of affordable and practical learning, adapting tools and technologies. Building a new type of Food Democracy, with more responsibility towards society, environment and the future generations is the responsibility and the right of all the stakeholders of the food system.

We can serve as a model for people in other major oil exporting countries. How a grassroots effort can lead the transition from Petrocracy to Food Sovereignty. We can show a population feeding itself and withdrawing from a dependency on oil exports and food imports – not only as a food strategy, but as a vital adaptation to climate change.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

Rural nodes are formed by farms. Farmers articulate through the local Permaculture Groups where they share knowledge, conduct research and organize for advocacy. Farmers bring their foods to Regional Collection Centers where they find food from other regions. The food arrives at the Store in the city. Orders are prepared and sent to chefs and consumers. They articulate through Food Communities, celebrate food and organize for advocacy. They visit farms regularly to learn and share.

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Team (11)

Claudia's profile
Claudia Sofía

Role added on team:

"Claudia is part of Pupilas Gustativas, a team that focuses on educating the population about regenerative food systems. She graduated from Slow Food University and has been a leader in the food movement in the country."

Karina 's profile
Karina Bautista

Role added on team:

"Coordinator of activities in the Galápagos Islands. Karina coordinates de Galápagos node of the Seeds Guardians Network of Ecuador. She is a key actor in the development of Permaculture in the islands and in the relationship between farmers, restaurants and local authorities."

Javier's profile
Fernanda's profile
Fernanda Meneses

Role added on team:

"Coordination of seed distribution and education on seed saving. Fernanda is the national Seed Coordinator for the Seeds Guardians Network of Ecuador and a living enciclopaedia on seed saving. She is also an artist an a soapmaker in her Huerta Flor de Cactus small business. She co owns El Wayruro Organic Store."

Daniela's profile
Daniela Borja Kaisin

Role added on team:

"Communication, social networks and visual arts. Daniela is the Communication Coordinator for the Seeds Guardians Network of Ecuador and has coordinated the Ancestral Seeds campaign since 2018."

Jose Rogelio's profile
Jose Rogelio Simbaña

Role added on team:

"Coordination of farmer’s training. Rogelio is the Agroecology Education Coordinator in the Seeds Guardians Network of Ecuador. He heads a farm and Permaculture training Center at Allpa Tarpuna, and is co owner of El Wayruro Organic Store."

Paulina's profile
Paulina Lasso

Role added on team:

"Teacher on Permaculture and expert on water catchment and sanitation. Paulina coordinates the Northwest Node of the Seeds Guardians Network of Ecuador and manages her consultant firm on ecological water sanitation, YakuNina. She also manages the first full organic palm core production fields of Ecuador at her farm."

Natalia's profile
Natalia Dávila

Role added on team:

"Natalia is an independent cultural producer, focused on rescuing and sharing the cultural identities of Ecuador through street theater, living culture workshops, festivals and other events. She has 18 years of experience in the field. Natalia is in charge of cultural identities and events production in the project."

Sebastian's profile
Sebastian Kohn

Role added on team:

"Sebastian is a leader in the wildlife conservation movement and he is promoting ways to integrate wildlife in agricultural systems. He also manages a Permaculture farm et the foot of the Cotopaxi volcano and with his wife co owns a restaurant in Quito."

Lucia's profile
Lucia De la Torre

Role added on team:

"Lucia is a researcher, the team leader behind the huge Enciclopedia Of Useful Plants of Ecuador. She is also an active seed guardian, specializing on citruses and avocados in her Hacienda Verde eco farm."

Huston's profile
Huston Middlesworth

Role added on team:

"Huston is building up relationships north-south in relation to seed saving. He is our ambassador to the seed movement in the USA."

Attachments (1)

A tale of Hope.pdf

This is the developed vision from the point of view of Esperanza, a mother and wise cooker living in the foodshed of Quito in 2050. It describes the results we hope will arise from the strategies proposed here in this Vision.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nataly Pinto Alvaro

Hello Claudia, Dani, Rogelio, Javier, and all the team!
It's been really inspiring to have 3 Ecuadorian proposals in this challenge. I love to see common friends here and I hope we can continue to build brides.
Maybe a contribution could be explaining very well the interconnection among the different types of landscapes and why they make part of the foodshed. The Galapagos proposal is amazing too.
We also believe in education as a key element and I think that we have to find creative ideas to get out of the crises that have touched upon our health systems but also in our local economies and even social relationships.
The best luck. I already feel we are all winners.
Keep in touch.
warm regards,

Photo of Javier Carrera

Thank you Nataly Pinto Alvaro . Best luck to you too.

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