An exchange seminar in Brazil
June 1992 - the month of UNCED, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro. Children from Sweden and from Brazil, together with teachers, experts in biology and in water, met in a small farm in Tatui Municipality, 250 kms West from Sao Paulo. The children said: " While you talk in Rio, we are building our Park."
The farm was to become an Ecological Park, a place for children and teachers to learn about living with nature. In the middle of vast deteriorating pastures, a small group of dedicated educationalists and environmentalists had began to make a sustainable small farm. Or as one foreign expert called it, a minimum entropy small farm. Meaning that the farm would go for minumum waste, and would recycle as much as it could; water, nutrients, materials brought in from outside. It would also maximally use the available natural energy, from the sun, the climate, and from the soil itself.
SIDA, the Swedish International Development Authority, gave support to this project for 1992 to 1994, through BIFO/Forum Syd, the Swedish NGO Association for Development Cooperation.
Now, only two years later, the farm stands out green in an environment that quickly yellows during the average nine months without rain each year. Hundreds of children from schools in the entire Municipality, visit the Park throughout the year. Together with their teachers they learn to separate waste, make compost, grow vegetables and fruits in an organic way, control pests through biological means. Playing educational games together, they learn to become more self-aware, empowering one another to improve their lives at home and in the school.
The Park houses an Art Center where poor women, living in the neighborhood, learn to create small works of art and thereby add to the meagre family income.
In 1994, children from various schools joined a program called from Child-to-Child, in which they presented what they have learned, and what they believe the future should be, to children in other Municipalities. The Child-to-Child Program has become quite a success and plans are made to build similar Ecological Parks in other places in Brazil.
Now, mid 1995 the Park is a florishing endeavor where many people, young and old alike, go to see and experience that ecological living is very much possible. To witness the fact that a deteriorated farm could become a higly productive eco-agricultural unit in just a few years, given dedicated work and appropriate investments.
The Swedish support end this year and the Park runs on its own programs of agricultural production and education for children and adults.
Further support is welcomed - so that the PArk can spread its experience and help other similar endeavors get of the ground, in Brazil and elsewhere on the world!
Contact Susan Andrews, Children's Ecological ParkBairro los Lopes, Porangaba SP 18260.000, Brazil
Phone (+55 152) 57 1243