MAKING THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION

14 02 2008

This is a truly inspiring story.  What it describes needs to happen for billions of people all over the planet.

Container Farming

Organic food production
in the slums of Mexico City

by Rodrigo A. Medellín Erdmann

By the middle of the 1990s, forty million Mexicans — nearly half the total population — fell below the poverty line. And of these at least 15 million live in extreme poverty — above all in urban marginal areas like the slums of Mexico City. Some seven years ago ANADEGES, a group of some 20 autonomous NGOs, launched a project to help the people there to develop their own autonomous capacity to produce food organically in small backyards or patios, balconies, rooftops — as a way to partially counteract the poverty being imposed upon them.

The technology had to address four constraints: little or no land, little or no investment in infrastructure, no purchase of chemical inputs, and be light weight for rooftop cultivation.

Three years were spent in a quasi-experimental stage. It is important to point out that these experiments were actually a trial and error process by an amateur with no agronomic training. An expert would have probably taken a much shorter time. On the other hand, an expert agronomist would probably not have dared to experiment with such lowly technology. During the last four years, the project has been introduced to several hundred families in six different slum areas of the city.

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