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Nov 14, 2018

Agroecology going gangbusters!

The Iracambi Agorecology polyculture is evolving, by leaps and bounds, and we can’t wait to tell you about it! It started as a model project to demonstrate to local farmers the benefits of producing organic crops in an agroforestry system. We’re now doing three things: producing seeds for green manure, raising organic fruit and vegetables, and making natural cosmetics out of native medicinals. We want to demonstrate to our family farming neighbors that this system saves money through minimum use of chemical fertilizers and maximum use of organic pesticides and herbicides. We want to show that organic crops are good for the soil, taste great, and are good for the consumers. Although there isn’t much of a market for organic produce in the rural areas, there is a demand in the local towns, and farmers can get a better price for organic produce – which of course is a great attraction! Once our polyculture is in full production – and now that the rains have come you can practically see everything growing! – we’ll be giving our first workshops, sharing and learning with local farmers and students. Our first one is scheduled for early December and we’re being overwhelmed with candidates! So here’s a quick rundown of how we put it together. We started by plowing up the land and applying calcium to correct our acid forest soils. The great thing is that we won’t have to do this again because there’ll be enough organic matter from the leguminous trees that we’ve planted. We’ve planted 250 native forest trees to attract fauna, provide seeds, and provide inputs for making natural cosmetics: creams, soaps and shampoos. As you can see in the picture of one of the saplings, we’re using recycled margarine pots to protect the trees from one of our great plagues – leaf cutting ants! These trees will also recycle nutrients, retain humidity in the soils and protect them from erosion. Intercropped with the trees we planted beans and maize as well as green manure crops. We also planted a type of local potato which is much in demand and provides a good income for family farmers. So thank you so much, dear donors, for supporting this project. Between us we’re creating a model that will help family farmers restore their soils, grow, eat and market healthy organic produce, raise their incomes, diversify their outputs, and adopt a sustainable model of farming: good for the producers, good for the consumers and good for the ecosystem.

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Sep 11, 2018

It is with great happiness that I am here to share our accomplishments in this trimester!

Winning school
Winning school

The result of the school competition that we started last year had amazing results, and the smallest school that participated in the competition was the winner of the competition.

The Municipal School Joaquim Ribeiro Carvalho  showed that it was there to win and gathered 0,17 kg of batteries per student- the highest result considering the number of students. The Municipal School Cândido Portinari won second place, with 0,15 kg per student.

In sum, all the students removed from the environment a total of 228,5 of batteries which would be all discarded directly into the soil. This is a disastrous issue to the health of the regional aquifers.

With this result we can prove that even with small numbers we can make a difference. Let's follow the steps of these young eco-leaders and keep doing our part to better the life of our planet.

In this last trimester, the transportation crises, the multiple school strikes, and the school- holidays turned it impossible for students of Rosário da Limeira and Belisário to Iracambi. However, now in September the regular activities of Ecoleaders will be back.

Even with all the current problems of Brazil and in the world, Iracambi never stops with its activities of planting the seeds of future eco-leaders in the heart of the young.

In this trimester we received more than 50 visitor betwen the age of 7 and 21 for activities of environmental sensitizing programs.

To a lot of students, it was the first trip of their lives inside of a forest and all of its wonders.

One of the students will always reside in our memory: Ryan, a bright young kid of 7 years old who knows much more of many adults around. He knew the names of many animals of the Atlantic Rainforest and knew exactly where to find them.

Nevertheless, there was something that Ryan didn't know: the local primate 'Muriqui' is the largest primate of the Americas and lives inside of the forests of Iracambi, as well as the sloth who also lives here which adores to hide under the of leaves of our famous tree 'Emba-uba'...

I could stay hours here telling to you all that happens during these visits. If you want to know more about our stories, reach us and it will be the greatest pleasure to talk you! You are a part of these adventures that happens with us.

Another group that also participated in our Ecoleaders activities with us came from the towns of Ervária and Viçosa. This group was very interesting because it was made of children, teenagers, parents and undergraduate students.

The interactions of this group were incredible and actually quite unusual. Maria Eduarda, a child of 9 year old, took leadership of the Medicinal Plants Trail with such enthusiasm and self-confidence that it seemed that she was used to being in forests her entire life and it was the first forest walk of her life!

The most knowledgeable participant- Dona Betânia told us about her precious knowledge of local medicinal plants and told  stories of her life 40 years ago. She knew a lot about herbal medicine since at that time it was the only health resource that was in place.

Finally, we fell in love with Yara's courage. She is a tennager of 16 years old who has phobia of been in closed forests. She was encouraged by her friends to visit Iracambi to win over her fear. At the end of the visit, Yara came to thank me for helping her lose her fear of such environment and that she actually had an unforgettable experience.

And that' all. We will keep with our mission of "Saving forests and transforming lives", like the ones of Ryan, Maria Eduarda, Betânia and Yara, who participate in the Ecoleaders program and took home lessons of environmental conservation and memories that will never be forgotten.

Playful activities with child of schools
Playful activities with child of schools
Demonstration of the several aspects of the forest
Demonstration of the several aspects of the forest
Walk through the Medicinal Plants Trail
Walk through the Medicinal Plants Trail
Ryan discovering about the monkey
Ryan discovering about the monkey 'Muriqui'
Maria Eduarda and her facial expression of forest
Maria Eduarda and her facial expression of forest
Discovering the wonders of the Atlantic Rainforest
Discovering the wonders of the Atlantic Rainforest
Sep 10, 2018

Transforming a small part of the world

Collecting solo with producer Jose
Collecting solo with producer Jose

Dear Rainforest Guardian,

Greetings from the Atlantic Rainforest!

As always we are full of stories to share with you.

Our colleague Fagner who looks after the nursery, recently became a dad! Inspired by Iracambi’s Agroecology project (which works with speciality coffee, a vegetable garden and SAF-Agroforestry Systems) Fagner has decided to leave the nursery and become a full-time coffee farmer. We are very happy for him and wish him all the best in his new venture!

As fate would have it, Régis an Agroecologist who volunteered in Iracambi in 2009, has never forgotten what he lived and learned. He recently returned with a mission: to produce lots of  seedlings to reforest the Serra do Brigadeiro!

Régis, has now become our nursery manager and is doing an excellent job! He has reformed the nursery greenhouse, is developing a seed bank, and is continuing the work of producing and taking care of our beautiful seedlings.

But the good news does not stop there…

GREEN AWARDS LATIN AMERICA

Iracambi’s Forest for Water project receives an award!

The Latin America Green Award seeks to showcase 500 of the best projects that stimulate the green economy through regional initiatives. There are 10 categories aligned with the Sustainable Development Objectives (ODS) of Latin America. Iracambi’s Forest for Water project was ranked 30th in the water category!

The award is not only a great achievement, it is confirmation that we are on the right track, working with the community for the conservation and production of water!

VISITS

We are now finalizing the initial visits to conduct a general diagnostic of the properties and collect soil and water samples for analysis, the demand is enormous!
It has been so encouraging to meet people who are aware of the issue and want to be proactive in water preservation.

Antonio from Ervália wants to reforest a very large area and told us why:

"When I was younger, my father did not care much about water, now that the farm is in my hands, I want to protect our most precious resource: water. After the crisis we experienced in 2014/2015 we can see the importance of this natural resource! Without it family farming, animals, plants would simply not exist".

Another advocate of water preservation is Dona Maria from the Ancorado community, in Rosário da Limeira:

"in 2014/2015 our spring dried up! My brothers had to walk 3/4 miles with a wheelbarrow to collect drinking water and water to wash my crochet to sell at the market. Many of our neighbors made artesian wells, but we did not want that. We decided to plant some trees around the spring, and the spring returned and never dried up again! Since then we take as much care as possible to protect the spring, because we learnt the hard way the challenges a lack of water bring".

It is amazing to share and partake in these moments of difficulty, strength, perseverance, success and relief when a spring is restored. It really is a priceless achievement!

DEMSUR PARTNERSHIP

The partnership with DEMSUR is surpassing our expectations!
In addition to analyzing the waters of each farmer, they are donating 50 concrete fence posts to 14 producers who have not yet fenced their water spring. In return, we have met, analyzed and selected 5 producers in the region of Muriaé Sanitary Landfill, where DEMSUR carry out their main activity.

So far we have analyzed 4 water samples from 30 springs, and the results are proving to be very interesting and informative! I look forward to sharing the analyses and results when we are finished!

PLANTING FOR WATER COURSE

On 08/31/2018 to 01/09/2018, Iracambi as part of the Rede Nós de Água network, organized a "Planting for Water" course with our neighbors and friends from the Franciscan Village in Belisário, a district of Muriaé.

There were 20-22 participants from various locations, Rosário da Limeira, Belisário, Viçosa, São Paulo, Araponga, among others. We held a theoretical class on the 31st on the distribution and dynamics of water on the planet, water basins (concepts, interpretation and reading), the water cycle, water related legislation, key issues and challenges related to water, and concepts and techniques of planting for water. We also looked at the implementation of fixed water structures (dry boxes, spring boxes, level curves) and green manure and rural sanitation technologies (evapotranspiration tank, biodigester, septic tank, dry toilet).

After that, we identified the water basin where we were located, which is the Paraíba do Sul River Basin, Muriaé River sub-basin, in the Fumaça River micro basin.

We conducted a diagnosis of the entire village, looking at the condition of the tops of the surrounding hills, identifying the location of the springs and whether they were fenced or not, whether there was adequate rural sanitation, the condition of the pasture etc… We worked on two fronts: one of them was leveling a degraded pasture and planting vegetables and another was to start building a dry toilet!

After this intensive experience, our goal for 2019 is to develop the project further! We want to plant trees, and develop partnerships to assist us with items such as septic tanks, spring boxes, dams, along with other techniques of production, storage and water quality! There is no point in producing water of poor quality, just as there is no point thinking only about the quality and forgetting that it is the forests that "produce" water!

MINING IN ROSÄRIO DA LIMEIRA

After the hearings held by the Commission, we learned of an Operating License that covers the municipality of Rosário da Limeira, and part of this area is APA (Environmental Protection Area), where mining is prohibited. We are currently looking for ways to revoke the license.

On 08/20/2018 we also held a meeting with the community of Ancorado in Rosario da Limeira explaining the progress of mining here in the region and the news of the Operating License. W continue to listen to what the community wants and develop strategies of how we will react to this news that makes mining an ever increasing threat in our lives!

In addition, the Commission for Combating Mining in the Buffer Zone of the Serra do Brigadeiro, together with the Southeast Minas Gerais Federal Institute and the Federal University of Viçosa on 08/27/2018 we held the third workshop on the social mapping of Belisário. The objective of the workshops is to build up a picture of our resources: waterfalls, springs, houses, animals, family farming, hiking, events, churches, among many other things instead of the empty maps that the mining company work with!

WITHOUT YOU, NOTHING WOULD BE POSSIBLE!

Dear friends, THANK YOU for believing in our work and doing your part for a better world!
You are the ones who give us support and motivation to continue. Together we work just like the forest ants, because when each one performs his part, anywhere in the world, TOGETHER, we make a positive difference in the life of each Maria and Antonio in each of the four corners of our amazing planet.

With love,
Arielle, Luiz, the farming families and Mother Nature!

Visit at Jose
Visit at Jose's farm
Soil collection with producer Joao
Soil collection with producer Joao
Reflection with Maria about the lack of water
Reflection with Maria about the lack of water
Analysis of the 04 collection of water
Analysis of the 04 collection of water
Antonio talking about the importance of water
Antonio talking about the importance of water
Antonio showing his dry spring
Antonio showing his dry spring
Collecting water from Nelson
Collecting water from Nelson's spring
 
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