A project to recover land and raise agro-ecological awareness
When we talk about food and food insecurity, we overlook those agricultural areas that could be productive and valuable to the community, but do not have farming families to care for them and put them into production. This is the focus of the Novessendes Civic Foundation, which has set out to recover abandoned land and transform the food chain in the province of Castellón (Valencian Community, Spain), one of the European areas most affected by the abandonment of rural environments.
This organisation wants to contribute to improving the quality of life of the citizens and has launched the project “Horta del Rajolar“. Its objective is to transform consumption and production practices by orienting both producer and consumer families towards a sustainable food system based on agroecology. Yes, all in line with the 2030 Agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals.
Through the Horta del Rajolar, this organisation provides job opportunities for those who want to work producing vegetables; for its part, the local population has easy access to healthy, agro-ecological and local products. Manolo Piquer, the president of the Foundation, tells us that this initiative aims to solve the problems facing the countryside, dignifying the profession of those who work in agriculture: “We want them to be able to obtain decent wages, based on a fair price that consumers pay for their products from a responsible position that dignifies the profession of farmers and the heritage that the garden treasures”.
A starting point for a change in the agricultural model
Years ago, the precarious agricultural situation in the Castellón area caused a large part of the rural population to abandon their land. With this project, the Novessendes Foundation is recovering these plots of land, proposing to the owners that they give them up while they are not needed so that other people can work them. “These are plots of the old orchard, close to the town centre, which, when worked again, also facilitate the maintenance of the traditional irrigation system. With all this there is an improvement of the peri-urban environment that also represents a value for the population”, explains Piquer.
Three years ago, this association opened a line of work with the objective of increasing citizens’ critical awareness of the interrelationships and effects of the agro-industrial model at both the global and local levels. In this line, the working group carries out awareness-raising actions with training, communication and research campaigns and generates networks of producers.
Thanks to the “Horta de Rajolar” project, agro-ecological production in the province of Castellón is becoming stronger and society’s awareness is growing. The president of the association is optimistic: “We are glad to see how a new look at the vegetable garden as an opportunity to reinvent agriculture with criteria of social justice, environmental sustainability and participatory governance is becoming a reality”.