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Community-based Food Systems (CFS) to neglected urban territories: Bucket Revolution +

Community-based food systems as a pathway to transform neglected areas into references for sustainable territories.

Photo of Michelle Bonatti
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

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

Association Bucket Revolution, Brazil Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Brazil Federal University of Santa Catarina State, Brazil Municipality of Florianopolis, Brazil Rare Brazil Non Governmental Organization

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 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?

Florianópolis, a city in Santa Catarina State, Southern Brazil, covers an area of 675km²

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We are a group of Brazilian researchers working on development projects from different academic backgrounds who have got together with the community leaders interested in creating a vision for the city of Florianópolis in 2050 as a sustainable territory. As current or former residents of Floripa – as it is affectionately called -, we have a strong sense of commitment to this beautiful but very unequal city. In Floripa, a health and environmental problem in one of its most neglected areas –  Monte Cristo neighborhood - was addressed by a feasible solution that became the ground for our vision. The regular waste collection was inefficient and happened only 3 times a week in two main routes around the community as the city trucks cannot circulate inside its narrow streets (a consequence of the irregular occupation). This insufficient presence of the local government regarding urban cleaning, summed up with the lack of public policies to deal with street animals, was partially responsible for a health problem faced by the community that inspired the creation of the “Bucket Revolution” (BR). The famished dogs were tearing up the trash bags located in the streets, which resulted in a proliferation of rats and a consequent leptospirosis outbreak that ended up victimizing two residents of the community. From this serious socio-environmental problem and to decrease and prevent the incidence of rats in the vicinity, the “Bucket Revolution” (BR) emerged in October 2008 as a movement for the separation and collection of organic waste from households in buckets and recycling through thermophilic composting that took place at the local State School, with initial support of a local NGO and the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Our vision is inspired by this important and truly revolutionary initiative that, despite several challenges, is still being conducted by the community, reaching around 200 families and recycling 5.6 tons of organic waste every month. 

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.

Florianópolis, the capital and therefore administrative and political center of Santa Catarina, is a touristic city formed mainly by an island and a small continental area, with a 96,21% urbanization rate, over 42 beaches, and high biodiversity areas. It has a subtropical climate with well defined seasons and environmental protection areas cover around 30% of its territory. In 2019, two important municipal laws were approved: the composting law, which predicts the recycling of 99% of all Florianópolis organic waste by the year 2030; and the agroecological agriculture law, that prohibits the use of pesticides in local productions. In social terms, the city is located in the region with the biggest gender gap in Brazil, where women's wages are 25,5% lower than men’s, and presents an unequal process of development. Its socio-economic growth is highly excluding, and the vulnerability conditions can differ accordingly among its distinct neighborhoods. By the year 2000, there were 56 areas of favelas in the city, inhabited by more than 15% of the population. The favelas, or so-called ‘social interest areas’ are not an unusual or recent phenomenon in Brazil, and general numbers of the growth of these areas in the country demonstrated that from 2000 to 2010 they grew 8,6% (Mation et al., 2014). In Floripa, the favelas first emerged in the 19th century in the Morro do Antão (Antão Hill) with the occupation of newly freed slaves. Favelas kept arising throughout the 20th century due to the migratory flow, that was intense in the region in the period from the 1970s to the late 1980s. In the 1970s there were already some organized and expressive struggles to solve the housing problems of migrants, and in this context of revindications, the community of Monte Cristo emerged as a favela (PMF, 2002). Nowadays, the neighborhood has a population of 14549 inhabitants (IBGE; 2015) poorly assisted having only one public elementary school, one public health center, three units daycare center, one Military Police battalion, as well as a few NGOs that deal especially with children and adolescents problems. Resulting from cultural diversity and influenced by the disadvantaged economic conditions of the residents, the Brazilian traditional diet for urban centers is adopted in the area, based on industrialized foods and non-organic greens and vegetables, forming the “rice-beans-meat” combination. In 2010, while the city of Florianópolis presented a higher Human development index (HDI) of 0,847 - than the national level of 0,759 calculated in 2018 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Monte Cristo community HDI was 0,680 in the same year.  Created in this context as a response for neglection, the Bucket Revolution inspired our vision. Now, with our vision, we intend to improve, consolidate and expand the initiative to the whole city of Florianópolis, taking this so needed Revolution to this beautiful but very unequal city.

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.

Brazil is not only one of the 15 most unequal countries in the world, but also a patriarchal society marked by its colonial past, slavery and the indigenous genocide. Therefore, it is not possible to understand the problem of neglection without considering that it is deeply affected by the interconnection of class, gender and race/ethnicity in concrete social contexts. Monte Cristo favela in Florianópolis is a neglected area characterized by the illegal occupation of land, with a majority of black people, with high demographic density, informal settlements together with a notable lack of infrastructure and public services and security, configuring a neglected territory. They are understood as a problem, and rarely seen as a source for solution. There is a current dominant culture characterized by the lack of references for success and low self-esteem which challenges their action for the necessary social and institutional connections.

It is also important to consider that the challenges faced by neglected communities in Florianópolis – and increasingly in a global era - are deeply influenced by interconnected global systems, in particular, the predominant economic system and the resultant food production system – an extractivist, reductionist, fragmentary and linear system that presents many externalities in terms of environmental degradation and socio-cultural-economic problems, such as reduction of green areas and food, soil and water contamination. As a consequence of the weak presence of the State, these neglected areas had to learn how to protect and help themselves and thus developed a sense of a society that functions as a family/social support network (WFC, 2018). The Bucket Revolution initiative, besides being a social-based solution, is also a good example of nature-based solutions (NBS), defined as actions inspired by, supported by or copied from nature that aim to help societies address a variety of environmental, social and economic challenges in sustainable ways (European Commission, 2018). However, in 2020, eleven years after the implementation of the initiative and its promising results, the Bucket Revolution is still limited, neglected by the public power and facing problems not only to be extended to the whole community but also to keep its current activities. Besides that, people in the community suffer a strong influence from the processed food industry sold in supermarkets, as it still has a strong influence on the food culture and diet of people in general.

If no action is taken and the population continuing arising (as occurred in the last decades), other challenges that will be increased by 2050 are related to poor social networking, preventing mobilization to solve social and environmental problems related to gender and racial inequality and environmental degradation, for instance. Parallelly, future climate change scenarios to Florianopolis indicate water scarcity, seasonal droughts, intensification of current floods or migration.  

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

Our goal is to promote a shift from “neglected areas” to “reference of development and sustainability” in the city of Florianópolis together with the local actors using three main strategies: socio-environmental technologies of organic waste management/urban gardens; governance; and local social networks clearly connected as a whole transformative food system. The first and key synergistic strategy is the application of a circular system where organic waste management via the technology of thermophilic composting is a platform for a flow of activities that contribute to the production of quality food set in urban gardens. The gardens are able to ensure food security for participating families and other improvements to the local community as well as to the whole city through a community-based food system specially designed to neglected territories. The second strategy, Governance, is a core aspect of our vision to address all the challenges in question. In that sense, a governance of material flows can be negotiated and implemented from agreements built with the current partners of the vision (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Federal University of Santa Catarina, Municipality of Florianopolis and Rare NGO, aiming to provide the necessary resources, support and behaviorally-informed incentives to implement the vision and expand the Bucket Revolution to the city. The third strategy is the promotion and reinforcement of social networks in the community. Having these 3 strategies as a basis, our plan of action embraces the following set of practices to be implemented in order to obtain practical results and achieve the main goal: 1º) to invest the prize in the acquisition of a vehicle for the organic waste collection and the necessary material to expand the Revolution to the whole Monte Cristo community; 2º) to establish agreements with the public power and NGOs for resources to hire personal and obtain community areas, to offer courses for the residents and training for the community leaders and for the creation of spaces to increase public participation of stakeholders in decision-making processes; 3º) to promote community initiatives to build and strengthen social networks, such as consciousness circles, community markets and cultural/artistic events; 4º) to upscale the food system created, expanding it to the other neglected communities in the city. 

Via the mentioned strategies and practices, the existent experience will then be transformed into a community-based food system that, addressing the big themes of Environment, Diet, Economics, Culture, Technology, and Policy interconnectedly in three main areas targeting specifically 8 components (as detailed in Fig 1. Community-Based Food System): Diets (Nutrition and Health and wellbeing); Economics, Policy and Culture (Governance and knowledge, Better income and Gender equality); and Environment and Technology (Climate adaptation, water, air and soil, and Biodiversity).

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.

Imagine a Brazilian favela being pioneer and creative in solving important problems such as waste recycling and healthy food production. Imagine a city celebrating life, where its citizens are active in creating a powerful food system. Imagine a sign of change captured by the whole community and developed into a reality of prosperity.

The story of Florianópolis, the sustainable city begins with the Chico Mendes Community. Its recognized model of waste recycling and food production called Buckets Revolution was spread to other communities and then to the entire city in a movement.

 We are all eaters and waste producers. We saw the power of a community when it is united, integrating people and institutions to face its problems. We are part of the food system operating from different roles and we can change them. In the sustainable city, favelas are transformed from the inside out as many residents had never recycled organic waste or grew food before, but they changed because learned about the food system. Other residents, some from rural areas, former peasants, perform a subsistence urban agriculture. They transformed their traditional methods of cultivation to agroecology through a network. With the technique, food can be produced in a confined space.

Citizens, institutions and community work in synergy with the health, social welfare, and education departments implementing connected approaches such as preventive medicine, interdisciplinary education, dietary and cultural routines offered in connection with reality through different areas such as environmental, food, agroecological, cultural education, and the arts. University work is related to the real problems through teaching, research and extension projects. Life quality is increased through access to food production and consumption generating cooperative intelligence that drives the emergence of a creative and circular economy.

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

With our community-based food system, we intend to promote socio-ecological justice, to promote the dignity of life and ecological integrity within neglected communities as well as outside them in our place. Our vision was thought from our contact with the BR as researchers and our vision was designed in collaboration and with the participation of leaders of the movement, the community of Monte Cristo, and other stakeholders, our partners in this vision for the solution of such local challenges. 

 The transformative and regenerative potential of our community-based food system stems from two main specific innovations that will need to occur in our place: 

1) the systemic and circular integration between waste management and food production, where household food waste will become compost to locally produce quality and nourishing food for the community (a “fork-to-fork” system); and 

2)  the implementation of a food production model specially designed for urban neglected territories, which will integrate agroecological principles and methods, in pocket gardens, seeking a smooth and sustainable transition and the diversification of production sources. 

To implement our vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future, we plan to use 3 strategies, a set of practices organized in steps and a range of expected results that intend to transform the neglected communities of Florianópolis into references of development. 

The first strategy is socio-ecological and nature-based technologies to promote circularity between different systems (organic waste management/urban gardens). Part of the produced compost will be sold as a direct source of income and part will be distributed inside the community to promote food production. The gardens are able to ensure food security for participating families and many other improvements to the local community as well as to the whole city through a community-based food system specially designed to neglected territories. The socio-environmental technologies of communitarian gardens and kitchen pocket gardens can guarantee high-quality food production, though the diversity and growth of species (focus on landraces when available) and agricultural practices. Therefore, water, biodiversity and climate components are promoted by the gardens as a biophysical conservation system, where some key versatile and local plant species are grown by near or in the gardens of the houses. An important aspect is that these gardens are a versatile food production system. It means that they would be crucial for food production also regarding climate change adaptation (considering scenarios of water scarcity, floods or migration). The diverse kinds of gardens can be implemented as adaptable systems/gardens that are transportable and also hold more nutrients and water, as for example the pocket-kitchen gardens.

Regarding the second strategy, governance of material flows (see figure 2) can be negotiated and implemented from agreements built between the current partners and the Municipality of Florianopolis. The establishment of this governance model will enable the creation of an adequate infrastructure for the decision-making process to happen in a democratic, dialogical and enforceable way. General principles and priorities will be set for the treatment of organic waste management and food production, aiming the promotion of the dignity of life and ecological integrity in these neglected territories. As a result of such decisions and agreements, the stakeholders will be empowered, having more clear roles and responsibilities. For instance, the activities planned in the implementation of our vision agree that: Federal University of Santa Catarina State could offer courses, data and promote research; Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) could offer seeds and training to cultivate native species and promote local diversity of foods; Rare could offer training for the leaders and instruments to raising consciousness in the community, using a behavior-centered design approach to understand community members challenges and actively engage in our proposed food system; and the Municipality and public sector institutions can offer contributions, incentives and subsidies in terms of lands and internships to hire personal, payment for environmental services and taxes exemption. Nowadays the Buckets Revolution saves for the public power around R$ 2,415.00 ($ 570) per month. If upscaled to all the neglected communities of the city (favelas) the savings can reach around R$ 173,000.00 ($ 40,802.00) per month. At least part of these savings could then be converted in Payment for Environmental Services or taxes exemption to the community in order to partially finance the food system - the waste collection tax, for instance, is an expensive impost that reaches around a national minimum wage per year for an average size house. Another key advantage to implement our vision is offering to the local government (municipality) activities to support the implementation of the approved municipal laws: the composting law, which predicts the recycling of 99% of all Florianópolis organic waste by 2030; and the agroecological agriculture law, that prohibits the use of pesticides in local productions. It increases the need for collaboration and the feasibility of our network.

Then, the last and third strategy is the development and reinforcement of social networks, which will be very important for the awareness and mobilization of the community to take action and solve social and environmental problems. To initiate and encourage community initiatives to build and strengthen social networks we will organize community markets, cultural/artistic events and consciousness circles around themes like environment, nutrition, gender, and politics. Environmental dialogues will generate the necessary perception and active participation of the population in our community- based food system. In its turn, nutrition education debates will promote consumption awareness, therefore the high-quality food production will be better consciously used. Together with it, nutrition information regarding food nutritional value and receipts are targeted as learning content. Here the community inhabitants were invited to discuss their views of the food systems understanding the impacts of consumption in the food value chain and their health.  

Furthermore, the creation of dialogical spaces where men and especially women can talk, share experiences and receive orientation about gender will raise awareness about the constraints and violences of a patriarchal society - like sexism, gender wage gap, unpaid domestic work, feminicide and feminization of poverty -, offering tools and support to deal with harmful gender roles and empowering women to vindicate for equality in domestic and public spaces.Political debates will also approach themes like racism, poverty, democracy and fundamental rights with the intent to generate knowledge building and sharing about the social complexity of neglected areas in Brazil and its local specificities, as well as to promote deliberations about the needs and demands of the community and mobilize actions to plea for rights.

With the artistic/cultural events, we will also promote cultural transformation via the appreciation of transmitted culture, reinforcing the necessary social and institutional connections and engagements to the valorization of traditions and increasing collective self-esteem and sense of belonging. 

Finally, with the markets, beyond strengthening social networks in the community, we will generate a new source of income and contribute to the improvement of nutrition, health, and diet with the selling of food surplus production.

Our vision is then also a pathway to promote complementary future potential scenarios:

-Sustainable school: Since the local school already uses the space for learning, composting and gardening, it has the full potential to be transformed as a food system education center. We promote spaces where people can learn about food systems but also experiencing a complete integrated model of governance, while the waste is transformed in composting which is the base for the school production, its cooking classes and cookbooks made with recipes based on fruits and herbs endemic to southern Brazil, that have historically formed an essential part of traditional diets. Rainwater is also captured through cisterns to school cleaning, community empowerment dialogues (training) are open to creating new strategies to develop the communities and cope with new challenges. This kind of school is also created in the other neglected territories. 

-Gender equality: In our food system, their participation and leadership is prioritized to promote gender equality by political, economic - via paid positions in the initiative and the income sources generated by it - as well as personal empowerment - with the creation and strengthening of social networks via consciousness circles. 

-Green spaces: community empty space where the waste is accumulated is transformed into green spaces. At least one per community will be created. These spaces full of trees, gardens and sports areas offer the community a place to interact and exercise. 

-Gastronomy network (targeting income and gender aspects): a besides of the income generated by food production (subsistence and local markets) and compost selling, the specific specialized products to be sold to five stars restaurant could potentially be a fourth way of income. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


Join the conversation:

Photo of Constanza Castano

Hi, Michelle! Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

I can see great potential in this vision. I could say that gladly it seems attainable in the very near future. I invite you then to continue dreaming, and this time much further. I have found that on the coast of Santa Catarina, where the Florianópolis Bay is located, a linear historical trend of sea level is observed, with a positive variation of 2.11 mm/year, resulting in an increase of 4.6 cm over the last 22 years (CEPAL 2015). How do you plan to adjust your food system to the island's climate change challenges and mitigate the associated effects? How do you see the tourism carrying capacity evolving by then? And, based on that, how Florianópolis will feed locals and visitors while keeping sustainable standards? What innovative proposal could your 2050-Vision offer to stand out?

As a source of collaborative inspiration, I suggest you take a look at these other submissions:

I would just like to suggest reviewing your vision according to the guidelines on Page 14 of our Toolkit on evaluation criteria. It may be that the questions that it includes lead you to new perspectives or simply help you to confirm the details of your proposal. Also, it is possible that mapping interconnections and relationships between components of your proposed system allow you to observe the emergence of unnoticed circular dynamics.

I look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming days.

Warm regards,


Photo of Michelle Bonatti

Dear Constanza,
thank you so much for your comments. We are reviewing many aspects of our proposal and your questions and suggestions will help us a lot!

I am working in Colombia too (sharing my life between Brazil, Germany, and Colombia). I hope we can also exchange at some point about other experiences. My email:

All the best,

Photo of Constanza Castano

Thank you, Michelle! I will be very excited to share experiences in the very near future. Meanwhile, count on me to answer questions or to spark new insights.
Very best,