October 2010

Urban Agriculture in Cochabamba

Introduction to the work of the Dutch Foundation NME Mundial and the Bolivian project team "Huertos Educativos Cochabamba"

Arnold Brouwer
Director Programa
Huertos Educativos Cochabamba

The first environmental education project of "Huertos Educativos Cochabamba" started August 2006. Four schools of the peri-urban area on the Southern side of Cochabamba participated in this project. Students from elementary schools passed weekly theoretical and practical classes on urban gardening focused on the production of healthy organic food crops. The idea behind the project is to motivate families from marginal sides of the city to produce their own vegetables. By stimulating the children to install a small garden at home the families receive an instrument for healthy food production.

During the past four years the team has worked with 18 schools and approximately 4.000 students. The first program focused on children around the age of 12. Now the team mainly works with children around the age of 9. At this age they still have one single teacher for all their subjects which makes it easier to plan visits and the teacher can easily supervise daily gardening duties. Apart from that, in general, 12 year olds are at an age where they do not care a lot about gardening; teenage girls are more worried about their fingernails not wanting to work in the garden. The younger kids love playing outside in the garden getting themselves dirty.

Last year the team started a new project working on the same environmental issues in child care centers. In these centers the goal is also to teach the children how to manage a small vegetable garden so in the future they can use this knowledge for growing their own crops. The main difference is that the team is visiting the centers twice a week in order to reach a good production. The harvest of plenty of fresh vegetables for the kitchen is an extra help, stimulating them to continue with the garden plot in the future.

Recently the "Huertos Educativos Cochabamba" team also started to give workshops on urban gardening to adults and the team started a pilot project on small intensive square foot gardens which are being installed at the homes of the interested families. Cochabanner invited the team to write a series of articles on the principles of urban gardening so the readers of the magazine can consider installing a small ecologic vegetable garden at home.

To be continued in the next Cochabanner: Setting up an urban vegetable garden (2-10)

Postcards: Urban Imagery and Symbolism

Each generation identifies with their city. The generation develops and changes along with it. The passing of generations is not homogeneous because each group built that city from representations of past, present, and future aspirations. Through this, we can consider that these images, and in turn ideas of social groups, are reflected in cultural symbols that give meaning to the city. Colors, names of streets and squares, monuments, statues, emblems, signs, styles of architecture, buildings and houses are real projections of how the subjective and the idealistic are reflected in the city.

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