Ecovida PGS Network - INOFO

Ecovida PGS Network - INOFO

Short description of your place and practices

Here on our small scale farm, we grow organic food through resilient organic agroforestry systems, which is a technique of producing food based on the principles of the forest. We produce vegetables, fruits and shiitake mushrooms. In addition to growing food here on our farm, we take our produce every Saturday to sell at a local streer market, to the people that live at the city.

Our production is 100% without the use of pesticides, gmo, etc, in order to have a food that in addition to feeding people's physical bodies, feeds the soil and contributes to the system as a whole.

Here at our farm we also have the mission of knowledgeshare, so we offer face-to-face courses on agroforestry systems and shiitake mushroom on logs cultivation, and, we also have our online course.

Me and my partner are young and organic farmers and we have been working with agroforestry for more than 10 years, our work inspires other young people and women, as well as farmers of all ages. Our farm is not only very productive, it is a living laboratory school.

We are members of Ecovida PGS Network since 2012.



Farm and farming system

2 - Mixed home consumption and commercial 
Crops, Trees, Other

Details of the farming system

Embracing agroforestry on our small scale farm!

We founded ProNobis Agroflorestal and through it, we expanded our vegetable production, innovated our shiitake mushroom cultivation, and increased our agroforestry efforts. Being a small holder farmer and working in and with resilient agroforestry is fascinating because we constantly learn from nature and promote biodiversity, while building strong food systems to face the climate crisis.

Agroforestry is an agricultural technique that can be used and shaped to produce vegetables, wood, mushrooms, animal husbandry, and all others agricultural products. It is based on the principles of the natural mechanisms of the forest itself and cooperation between the species.

We cultivate a mix of species according to the objective of each agroforestry plot. Here, our work is especially with fruit trees such as orange, lemon, avocado and also yerba mate, traditional local tree. Between the rows of these trees, we grow various vegetables (lettuce, garlic, carrots, etc.), herbs, medicinal plants and flowers. The wood from the trees is important because we use it for the production of shiitake mushrooms, our main product. We sell our products at the street markets we attend once a week and also on a digital ecommerce.
Our agroforestry system and shiitake production yielded positive results on our farm, which made other farmers curious to learn more. We held courses on our farm and elsewhere to teach others what we were doing. The government saw the potential in our activities and decided to partner with us by funding courses on agroforestry and shiitake production so that farmers could attend without paying.

We now also offer virtual courses which we are currently translating into English. Furthermore, we provide advisory services on agroforestry, mushroom cultivation, organic farming and PGS certification. Working on PGS revealed the realities of many women farmers in organics and encouraged me to do something about it.
Using PGS to advance gender equity
In 2016, I worked as one of five coordinators for Rede Ecovida (the biggest PGS association in Brazil). It was the first time that all the coordinators were young women and it was an empowering experience. We worked with 500 small holder families on gender-related issues in organic farming, which was both challenging and fruitful.

Many of the people we worked with thought that gender was more deconstructed in organic farming, but this is wrong! The reality is that women fight against toxic masculinity and patriarchy on a daily basis, for example by working double time (at work and at home) without social and financial recognition.

Not only that, many women in our community have suffered and continue to suffer domestic violence in silence. For this reason, during our time as PGS coordinators, we created a safe space for regular meetings with women farmers. In these spaces, we learned of the horrific and tragic situations that some women farmers had been subjected to. As the women shared their stories, we were determined to help them out of their situations and to shape our PGS initiative in a way that openly condemns all acts of abuse (sexual, physical, mental, emotional and financial).
Along with discussions, meetings and the creation of a movement on gender and PGS, led to the writing of the first gender police that talks about the different types of abuse, the effects of abuse and what to do if you are a victim of abuse. The response we received after publishing this document was overwhelming! We realised that many women had no idea that they were victims of abuse, assuming that abuse was only sexual or physical.

We wanted to use our PGS initiative as a way of addressing violence and abuse in our community, and this was a start. Since then we have been able to get more women and men from the community to condemn abuse in all its forms and to support the victims. I believe that if a PGS is designed with gender equity at its core, we will be able to address social, economic, mental and environmental issues much more effectively.
Using the knowledge, network and skills I had acquired through my work at Rede Ecovida, I decided to contribute to the creation of policies that support organic agriculture. This led me to join Brazil Organic Institute, as one of its directors. It is an organisation that works throughout Brazil to promote organic agriculture, with advocacy as one of its main work fronts.

I want to use my role as a small holder organic farmer leader, feminist and advocate to bring about sustainable change in my community, in Brazil as a whole and abroad. I believe that it is essential to recognise the fundamental role of women in organic agriculture, whether in production, marketing or in the political sphere.

What is your dream for the future of your farm and/or your location in general?

We certainly have not one, but several dreams about our farm and our location
In Brazil, one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions is the practice of cattle ranching and grain production (GMO focused), while we have the largest forest in the world, which is the Amazon Rainforest..

Our dreams are around learning, practicing, spreading and teaching productive techniques that at the same time produce quality and healthy food for all people and contribute to the environment as a whole. We want to shared it with everyone by our own example, that it is possible to produce lots of food and contribute to a social, agricultural and environmental transformation, to inspire people around us and around the world.

We also practice and show through example that it is possible to have gender and youth equality in the field, in marketing and in education.
We believe in the potential of PGS as an agroecological social and productive tool. Therefore, In addition to the space of our farm, I work as an advocate for organic agriculture and agroecology, where I am part of three civil society organizations, namely:
Ecovida Network: local level, PGS, I served as coordinator for 4 years, I am currently a member.
Brazil Organic Institute: national level, organization that works to promote organic agriculture at the national level, advocacy and observatory, where I am the current southern director.
INOFO - Inter Continental network of Organic Farmers Organizations: international level, where I actively participate as a member.

Responsible for information

Karina David