Children learn conservation with agroforestry and mobilization at school

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Student in the eighth grade of elementary school, Maria Catarina Viana, 14, had no idea what profession she wanted to follow. A student at the Professora Clélia de Barros Leite da Silva State School, in Nazaré Paulista (90 km from São Paulo), she discovered a vocation after taking a portion of rice full of fungi to the classroom.

“I cooked the rice in well water, put it in a little bamboo, climbed into the dense forest and buried it. After 15 days I went there and it was full of colorful fungus”, says Catarina.

The student, who now wants to be an environmental engineer, produced a small amount of efficient microorganisms, a fertilizer for plants that has become popular in debates about the transition to models of agriculture less dependent on industrial chemicals.

She learned the technique along with her colleagues in the Climatic Schools project, carried out by IPÊ (Institute of Ecological Research), in partnership with the Iamar institute and sponsored by Petrobras.

The idea is to discuss impacts of climate change and engage school communities in local solutions. In Nazaré Paulista, family properties predominate, which play an important role in conserving the forest around the Atibainha dam.

In schools that receive the program, students and teachers form socio-environmental collectives, which lead actions to face and adapt to climate change in the community.

Before forming the group, teachers and students participate in workshops with information from the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

From there, they choose groups, such as the selective collection, led by Felipe Bertozzi, 9, from the 3rd year. “Let’s go to the rooms to see if they’re separating.”

At Clélia de Barros, the project is supervised by Professor Letícia Bueno. “It’s not for everyone, it’s a choice”, says the teacher. “When you see the importance of all this, the experience of students trying to form a small SAF [sistema agroflorestal] It’s a seed in their heads so they can do things differently.”

The school’s AFS has radish, arugula, cassava, eggplant, corn and cabbage. The fruit trees, like the banana tree, are in the middle of the rest. Students learn to manage the system and create a balance between plants that grow faster, providing shade to other species, and to identify, in the home region, plants that can go to the plate.

15 km away, in Piracaia, the producer’s fair, which brings together farmers from the region and cultural attractions, was the place chosen for a protest in November this year with ten children against the fires in the region.

According to educator Bruno Elias, the protest was a practical step after weeks of study and conversations on the subject with the children, who participate in the Coletivo Sementeira.

“I wanted to choose this theme because I wanted to take care of nature”, says Iuri, 6. “We also chose this theme because we are seeing several fires here in Piracaia”, says Dylan, 9.

The children spoke with a fire brigade member from the city’s environmental council and visited a Fire Department unit in Atibaia, summarizing what they had learned in phrases for banners.

“Take care not to set fire to the bush” was chosen by Iuri, and “Take care of the environment”, by Dylan.

Elias, who has taught in the city of São Paulo, sees other possibilities in the countryside for combining learning and participation in the public life of the city —which helps children to engage in everyday issues, such as fighting fires.

“It’s another dynamic. We managed to mobilize a tender at the Municipal Council for the Environment to hire an environmental agent. A law proposal was made, the mayor ratified it and it became a public notice”, he says.

The themes of the next studies, which may become new actions at the producer’s fair, are garbage disposal and care for the oceans.

The journalists traveled at the invitation of Petrobras.

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