Once, producing food was an integral part of people's lives everywhere. It was the core basis of life-bringing and health-maintaining cultures. Today, we cannot say the same is true. Industrial means of production have ripped the very cultural fabric, which bonded farmers and their communities together. Perverse comercial products have left our soils and our waters degraded. Let us restore health together! Let's invite our neighbours to once more care for the maters which sustain our lives!
Riodouro, Cabeceiras de Basto, Northern Portugal
There is a massive lack of collective mutual empowerment, which is worsened by the very fact that the supposedly scientifically-backed industrial solution to farming comes upon our communities coated in certifications and academic glow. This makes people fear not being qualified enough to argue against such propositions or to even question. Entering in a direct conversation, open and honest, about current practices is a "no go"; it's a void in the civic space.
We identified that, in order to build community, and to leverage the necessary political power, which will grant us the autonomy and confidence to pursue our own interests towards a more sustainable future, we must produce shareable knowledge, from the bottom up, which is scientifically verifiable, and globally repeatable.
We will primarily be working with the farmers from Riodouro (aprox. 200 people), but once success builds up in terms of collective cohesion and spontaneous participation, we'll be extending our reach to other villages within the region (Cabeceiras de Basto). Whilst we opt for segmenting the key producers (middle aged and old males) as the main focus, we see it necessary - socioculturaly and politically - to involve their families in this community evidence gathering process.
Eventually, the new generations, most of whom are still in the process of abandoning rural activities, will have to be positively and constructively engaged in this effort. They are a key group, which we aim to strategically involve in community building and real democratic empowerment sessions.
In our own property (inhere), we will host a number of workshops and courses on a variety of approaches to regenerative agriculture, the results of which will be documented and monitored, so to provide a success reference in relevant terms such as ecosystem diversity and resilience, workload, yield and profit, carbon sequestration etc. We will further provide training and study residency opportunities for those willing to become involved deeper as active community leaders in our project, hence helping multiply the effects of our actions.
On other people’s pieces of land (inthere), we will engage in methods of sampling and collaborative data collection, in ways that are simple, repeatable, transversally comparable, and shareable. We will motivate land holders to develop the habit of regularly conducting these procedures themselves and to share their acquired knowledge with the rest of the community. We will serve as coordinators and facilitators of this bilateral process.
Through the Soil Health Coalition platform (online), we can further correlate our questions, as well as our stories, and our results with those of other communities abroad. We will also actively translate and treat all data, which our community collects, so that it is rendered scientifically verifiable, as well as meaningful and useful to anyone in the world.
Having rescued old traditions, as well as learned new innovative methods, people will thus develop more confidence in those practices they'll know provide better care for their soils, their food and their healths. Our community will have developed more political power and autonomy to pursue our own local interests and purposes and thus resist becoming ever again prey to the agribusinesses, which are so detrimental to everyone's lives. A larger community will have formed over this period of time, whose effects will last into the future, for people will intuitively see the benefits of gathering to democratically discuss, decide and learn together about ways to transition into a sustainable future, whilst regenerating our soils and recovering our ecosystems, which we are an integral part of.
A number of issues are at stake here, which must be addressed (gradually and delicately) with and by the members of our community, in order to improve the current problematic situation: passive modes of industrial food production and consumption. We are pointing out that, if a regenerative agriculture movement is to ever succeed, one must regenerate our own human cultures as well. This means engaging the local population in a series of social dynamic activities where, for instance, maters of gender inequality and the division of labour, as well as the loss of local cultures and wisdom are creatively and critically approached. The results and transformations of these processes will then be organically (yet consciously) incentivised in our local economies, thus promoting action from within.
We are Rodrigo Camacho and Sara Rodrigues. We are both artists and have vast experience in participative and community-based projects.
This is where we live. Riodouro is our home, and we would like to hand it on to the next generation in a state better than the one we found it in. Yes, it is a huge thing to aim for, but this is the project of our lives. It is the very core of our purpose here. Having studied ecology, permculture, agroforestry and natural farming, we know it is possible to regenerate the soils and waters of our planet; we know it is possible to revert climate change back and we so much want to be a part of this movement now. We know that changing people's habits is a difficult thing, but if we share the process, learning and changing together becomes a much easier task.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
€6600 Acquisition tools and equipment, books and media; training and education
€16000 Activities and information coordination; community training and demonstrations; workshops; translations
€9900 Community building events; strategic meetings with key stakeholders; presentations and pitches
€3500 Production, promotion and dissemination of an end-of-project collaboratively made guide
€4000 Transportations; per diems; bills; office costs.
We would like to hear from others who also feel that the current systems of food production are unbelievably corrupt and that there must be something we can all do to improve the situation. Tell us how do you relate to this, and to those in your communities who deal with food production first hand.