Home grown crop
Every morning, Mr. Mario Pimienta finds motivation to get up early. He takes care of his cilantro, paprika, lettuce, chard and radish plants with the same devotion as he cares for his grandchildren or his family. It is a daily and patient ritual: planting, watering, scattering the soil and checking if his crops are ready to be shared at the table. He has reached sixty years of marriage, raised five children and is now retired from his work life. He makes his urban kitchen garden a reason to learn, eat healthy and enjoy a personal therapy to which he dedicates time and desire.
“It is a very pleasant experience, because I know I eat well, with vegetables without contaminants and with the joy of knowing that they are the result of my own effort,” explains Don Mario. Of all that he has sown in the twelve baskets of his backyard, he affirms, amid smiles, that he does not like radishes and that he would like to plant onions, his favorite.
Huertas con Vos also provides advice and technical support to crops that are the result of a personal or family effort. Thus, the Municipal Administration supplies the experience and the necessary human team to bring knowledge to the territories.
This dream of having a piece of the farm within his house, in the east of Medellín, was born the day he heard from the voice of his neighbors that the Medellín Mayor’s Office had a program to grow vegetables at home for everyday consumption.
He was encouraged, attended the theoretical and practical workshops, and finally received the tool kit consisting of a rake, watering can, plastic bag, fertilizer and seeds.
This is how Huertas con Vos (Urban and Rural Kitchen Gardens with you) operates. It is a program of the Municipal Administration that guarantees the consumption of healthy, varied, sufficient and planned products. For the Secretary of Social Inclusion, Paulina Suárez Roldán, “this initiative improves food security conditions, achieves savings per family and per month close to COP$70,000, strengthens family relationships and builds a social fabric.”
These orchards, rather than generators of sufficient and healthy food, are infrastructure, economic development, agricultural support, education, health, social work and an incentive to explore new and diverse gastronomic preparations.
Sustainable and Productive Indoors
To be part of Huertas con Vos, you need the availability of at least 10 square meters of the terrace, patio or green area in the urban area and 100 square meters in the rural area. You must also fill out a document in current calls, attend workshops where participants learn everything from how to plant to how to enrich meals and accompany the process of growth, as well as, to harvest and care for plants with biocompounds and biopreparations.
Esteban Gallego Restrepo, director of Food Security of the Medellín Mayor’s Office, explains that “this project is sustainable, has indicators and provides people with skills so they can appropriate and continue with their gardens over time.”
When the family harvest is so productive that it exceeds 50 kilograms, generated surpluses can be used for marketing and sale. With this Alianza por el Buen Vivir (Alliance for Good Living), the two most vulnerable links in the production chain are supported: family farmers and the final consumer, by improving sales conditions, for the former, and offering the latter, a quality product at a very good price.
This local experience has been advised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), so hat income is generated with agroproductive models and the results are visible to the world, in order to find the best international partners in its execution.
This is an associative, democratic and solidary model that makes it possible, for example, for family members to sell 14 tons of Creole potatoes every month to school restaurants in the city.
In this fashion, we work from Medellín, in conjunction with other programs, to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable, eradicate extreme hunger and malnutrition, and facilitate access to nutritious and sufficient food throughout the year.
An urban kitchen garden:
- Green curly lettuce
- Purple cabbage
- Chard Beet
An rural kitchen garden:
- Green curly lettuce
- Purple curly lettuce
- Green cabbage
- Purple cabbage
- Red onion
- Red bean