Urban agriculture revolution  in Algarve

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Several people across the Algarve are already reaping the benefits of urban agriculture as this new sustainable trend is developing fast under the current economic crisis.

Lagos Câmara has recently joined the urban farming movement with local families now using parcels of abandoned land granted by the municipal authority to cultivate crops.

These are called Hortas Sociais Urbanas (social urban crops).

The Lagos ‘hortas’ are part of a wider project by the Câmara entitled Agricultura Biológica para Todos (biological agriculture for all), which aims to promote biological ways of cultivating fruit and vegetables while educating people about the environmental benefits of their practices.

On March 17 at Parque Dr Júdice Cabral, 28 families joined Mayor Júlio Barroso and other supporters of the project to be presented with their land parcels, which they will be able to use, at no cost, to grow their own crops using environmentally friendly practices.

As part of the initiative, workshops are conducted to teach those interested what is required to grow crops ecologically, promote healthy eating habits as well as use the crops as a money saving opportunity.

The disused plots of land will also be regenerated and maintained by the families, who are responsible for their upkeep and will only have to incur the expense of utilities such as water and electricity but at cost price.

Lagos Câmara Vice-President, António Marreiros, addressed the invitees and began by thanking partners in the project, Algar (Algarve solid waste management company), Biosite (Biological Agriculture and Education Cooperative) and Algarve University.

He said: “The response we have had to our initiative was tremendous and we currently have 20 other families on the waiting list.”

Only those who earn below the minimum wage, receive social benefits, are pensioners or belong to large families can apply to be included in the Hortas Sociais Urbanas project.

Lagos Câmara is now looking at other areas of the council in which to expand the project.

Meanwhile, in the Faro area, another such project is being developed by Glocal association which promotes environmental practices and a global way of thinking but at a local level.

Glocal is encouraging residents to create their own planting areas in suitable places that they may not use, such as windows, spacious balconies and personal gardens. The idea of having more planting beds throughout Faro is something Glocal also feel strongly about.

The association says urban agriculture promotes the growing, processing and distribution of food within the city.

Thus, on the first Sunday of every month, Glocal holds a “swap market” at the Faro Municipal Market, where people can go along and trade items between themselves, including fresh and homemade produce.

To know more about the urban agriculture in Lagos, please call the Câmara on 282 771 700. For more information about Glocal, please call Vanessa Sousa on 916 067 390 or Michael Ferrada on 919 070 032 or visit www.glocalfaro.blogspot.com.