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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Call for experiences and good practices in the use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines for the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security

Michelle Jacob
Michelle JacobUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteBrazil


Community gardens to food democracy: Right to Adequate Food, higher education and awareness raising trough the approach of sustainable food systems in brazilian northeast

Geographical coverage


Country(ies)/Region(s) covered by the experience


Your affiliation

Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte

How have the VGRtF been used in your context? Which specific guidelines of the VGRtF was most relevant to your experience?

The VGRtF were used in our University to develop a framework of actions in education and research functions to heal the professional lack to reach the sustainable development goals at the national and local levels, mainly those related to Right to Food. Our main reference were the Guidilene 11.

Brief description of the experience

The center of the proposal is project of an urban and community garden, with educational purpose (garden-based learning) that favors Non-conventional food plants of Brazilian socio-biodiversity, especially from the caatinga biome, with the objective of developing a sustainable approach to the food system, with support from multiprofessional team. Issues of sovereignty and food and nutritional security are at the heart of this proposal. Urban agriculture provides fresh food, generates employment, recycles urban waste, creates green areas, and strengthens city resilience to climate change. The community component of the project has the purpose to promote popular participation, intensifying mutual aid and social support necessary for the construction of food democracy. The methodological conception that supports the proposal to use the garden with educational purposes has been widely used and fostered under the idea of ​​Garden-based learning (GBL). There is a broad scope of scientific evidence to support its effectiveness, among them: increasing community acceptance for fruits and vegetables, voluntary changes in diet, improved understanding and relation to the environment, promotion of community and social participation, improvement in behavior in general and higher rate of learning when compared to conventional methods of education. The work with Non-conventional food plants (UFP) aims to favor species of the region's biome (caatinga), because they are an accessible food option, adapted to the territory, of high nutritional value and protective of local socio-biodiversity. The garden was implanted on the grounds of a Public School of Nutrition in Natal, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Northeast Brazil, one of the regions most affected in the country with Food Insecurity. The curricula, especially of Nutrition students, have undergone a reform to welcome the approach. Today, seven curricular components of this course work with GBL. Questions like: what to plant, how to grow, how to process, how to consum and how to develop food education with these plants are the motors of the activity in the garden with the community, connected with the discussions in classes and researches that came with these questions.

Who was involved in the experience?

The project consists of members of the general community who voluntarily wish to participate, members of the university community who constitute a multidisciplinary team to support the project, including: nutritionists, botanists, agronomists, pedagogues and social scientists. The team is connected with the questions from food and nutritional safety council (civil society) of the region and collaborate with the Cooperation Centers for Student Food and Nutrition that provides academic contribution to enhanced management of Brazilian School Nutrition Program, especially to connect family farms and nutritionists to promote the cultivation and purchase of caatinga plants. In the next phase of this project our goals are to work directly with schools in areas of social vulnerability, implanting gardens and developing minimum processed food products with the women from scholar community (mothers, teachers, girls) to generate incomes.

How were those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition involved?

We made a call using the communication systems of university (radio, electronic informative and websites), built a group in the social network to enroll individual people involved and those enrolled in civil society organization and, mainly, we receive directly demands by people enrolled in community projects, brazilian school nutrition program and professionals brazilian public service health care.

Main activities

We developed with the community:

These courses: I cycle of discussions on food and nutritional security, Cinema à la carte II: human right to adequate food in focus, Introduction to Permaculture and Agroecology for Nutrition, Geoculinary and literature: territory, food and culture for food and nutritional security, Planning, implementation and maintenance techniques of community gardens for Nutrition, Non-Conventional Food Plants in practice: reconnecting Botany and Nutrition;

These events: We are all for all! Violence against women: reports and experiences and I Cycle of debate on sustainable food systems for food and nutrition security

These activities: assemblies to make decisions and plan the implementation of the garden, its implementation and launch and biweekly we are pulling together to maintain it.

We developed and manage, in order to make built permanent networks: a website, an Instagram @nutrirhorta, an Whatssapp group, an Facebook group (Grupo Horta Nutrir), an email list

We developed with the multiprofessional team: several meetings to make the courses and events institutionally feasible, rethink and redesign curriculas, wirting projects to obtain resources to keep developing the activities, to collect demands from others projects, and to run specific research with the questions brought by the garden. For instance: 1- research to carry out surveys of plants with edible potential in caatinga conservation units; 2 - to construct diagnoses with a survey of the main obstacles to the purchase of family farming in school feeding of municipalities with difficulties to obtain the minimum 30% determined by law n. 11947/2009.


Our first activity in this project were in April, 2017 and it is still ongoing.

Results obtained/expected in the short term, with quantitative aspects where feasible (estimate of the number of people that have been or will be affected)

About our process in total we developed and built:

15 face-to-face activities, already detailed, involving 630 people and

5 virtual spaces to communicate directly with 500 people

Results obtained/expected in the medium to long term, with quantitative aspects where feasible (estimate the number of people that have been or will be affected)

About our results we have today:

1 community garden (10x10m)

1 permanent project with the community in the garden

50 species with several varieties (many varieties of pepper, corn, basils and amaranths, for instance) in the garden

10 of these species are officialy recognized as native species of the brazilian sociobiodiversity with food interest by Interministerial Portfolio n. 163/2016

1 Survey of traditional uses of species (ethnobotany)

7 curricula components working with garden-based learning

2 new curricula components specifically toughed to heal the professional lack to reach the SGD at the national and local levels, mainly those related to Right to Food

Results obtained – most significant changes to capture

Reported changes in the conception of the group of professors and students involved about multiprofessional and transdisciplinary work. Changes reported by the community, mostly urban, about its conception of food production. Enlargement of community knowledge about species of Brazilian socio-biodiversity. Invite to participate in the construction of the environmental policy of university bringing the experience of community gardens to all university (ongoing). Invite to report the experience of this project at the Journal of the Federal Council of Nutritionists as a form to multiply the experience.

What are the key catalysts that influenced the results?

Institutional support from Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte; multi-sectoral approach; inclusiveness and participation and evidence-based analysis

What are the major constraints/challenges for achieving the Right to Food?

The fragile moment of the brazilian democracy impacts the perceptions of citizenship of our participants and mainly the resources that came from the public policies of food and nutrition, mainly for women, native populations and others vulnerable and marginalized people and groups. Lack of professional with post-graduate level course able to develop mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of Right to Food in the glocal and local contexts.

What mechanisms have been developed to monitor the Right to Food?

Observation of the number of species of sociobiodiversity in the region and in the garden according to the Interministerial Portfolio n. 163/2016 and ethnobotany surveys, realization of scientific divulgation of the survey of plants of caatinga biome and observation of the inclusion of this plants in school feeding menus, observation the the percentual of purchase of family farming in school feeding of municipalities according to the law n. 11947/2009. Since we began with the “garden process” we have met several local researches, of multiple areas, interested in the topic of Right to Adequate Food. Now we are trying to connect our demands to create, in 2018, of a Laboratory of Community Action Research Towards Right to Food to develop monitoring, indicators and benchmarks to establish mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of these guidelines towards the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

What good practices would you recommend for successful results?

Participation of all relevant actors in the decision-making process, including curricula reform. Cooperation with other universities, mainly from Latin America and Caribbean, which are countries with similar historical democratic fragilities and, consequently, in their food systems. Report periodically to share and to incorporate feedbacks in the approach.

Links to additional information

Project’s web site:

Instragram’s web site: @nutrirhorta

Facebook’s group: Horta Comunitária Nutrir

UFRN page of Comunity Garden:

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