SOIL, LIFE SUPPORT
We create demonstrational spaces of agroecological practices for the construction of local food sovereignty.
It is estimated that 80% of agricultural land in Mexico suffers degradation due to intensive practices and the use of agrochemicals, and that 90% of food is contaminated by agrochemicals (Hernández, 2016; INECC, 2007). The reality in our town, sadly, is no different. The industrialized production of food in Tecuanipan has caused a strong degradation of the environment, which affects the soils and their fertility, the rivers and bodies of water, as well as the remnants of the forest and even the plots affected by the increasing use of agrochemicals.
However, an increasingly evident crisis opens the possibility of proposing viable agroecological alternatives. During the last decade, Casita de Barro has experimented with agroecological crops for self-consumption that, today, constitute demonstration spaces open to the local community. Likewise, we began to explore the edible forest model and regenerative agriculture plots.
In our biofactory we compost easily accessible local inputs and ferment microorganisms from native oak forests, which we enrich with charcoal and ash from local temazcals and dust from basalt stone from the Popocatépetl volcano.
With the support of CONAHCYT, we built a laboratory for the reproduction of pest control fungi, a space that offers an alternative to the use of toxic pesticides to the farmers of the region.
The experience of our educational program feeds a popular education model that proposes us to weave a support network between similar projects in the region and collaborate with national and international universities to continue facilitating participatory projects.
In 2015 we started Sanje, a cooperative of local producers (@Sanje) whose focus has been self-consumption, barter and sales at fair prices for the producer and the consumer. The creation, in 2021, of a community point of sale, obeys the vision that the people themselves value and consume the products produced and processed by local farmers. SanJe's community outlet has also become an educational space for local and regional schools.
The consolidation of the Sanje group proposes to increase community participation, opening alliances with supportive consumers of the city of Puebla and building, with the following generations of young people, viable community life options.
Adding to the above, our community kitchen socializes simple processes such as preserves and ferments as food preservation alternatives and, consequently, as value-added alternatives for local products in regional markets. Our experience as practitioners of traditional medicine is proposed as an important axis of this formula.
In a long-term project, we intend to reconstruct the memory of a previously forested territory with clean rivers in the territory to promote, from a community base, ecological regeneration actions.
Today, as a result of a state-leading deforestation rate, only 3% of the municipal territory is covered by forests. Sadly, we are witnesses of generations of young Tecuanippians who have normalized this deforested landscape as much as they have normalized seeing their polluted rivers.
With the collaboration of Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, since 2015, around twenty participatory research studies have been developed that have laid the foundations for a socio-environmental diagnosis of the local micro-basin. Involving groups of key local actors, we have identified and prioritized the problems linked to this territory, linked to the devaluation of peasant living, their uprooting and, therefore, the environmental deterioration of the community. Community voices also speak about water, its access by the population and producers, as well as the pollution of the local river. Likewise, the unifying dynamics of community life were a recurring theme, referred to as the cultural separation that exists between the Tecuanippense and their territory, translated into a lack of culture and concern for the environment.
The formation of Sembrando Esperanza as a local collective action group (SembrandoEsperanzaSJT) made possible the first phase of the ecological restoration of Cerro Xocoatlayo, a space of local symbolic value. We continue to support the group with actions such as the prevention of forest fires, the creation of community forest nurseries and the maintenance of planted trees.
A complementary part of our educational proposal are the eco-technological proposals, which support this peasant town in its quest to conserve its natural heritage. To this end, various demonstration systems are contemplated for rain collection and storage, biofiltration of wastewater and irrigation systems. At the same time, the construction of energy-saving stoves is also proposed in houses chosen for their demonstration potential.
The long-term vision of Casita de Barro generates a community rural tourism model that articulates local ecological restoration efforts, while promoting the transition towards agroecology of local farmers. Our intention is to detonate the current processes of revaluation of identity and connection with the territory, essential processes for the defense of our natural and cultural heritage.