Words by Smiley Team
What is set to be the world’s biggest urban garden is currently under construction.
Slated to be finished in 2024, the garden is part of a government-funded project called “Hortas Cariocas” in Rio de Janeiro. When finished, the garden will span the size of around 15 British football fields and will connect several different low-income communities in the city
Some of the communities involved in the project include Cajueiro, Palmeirinha, Serrinha, Buriti and Faz-Quem-Quer.
The project is intended to provide a source of income to poorer families and communities, as well as make organic food more accessible and affordable.
“The result of our project is not to have a beautiful garden,” said Julio Cesar Barros, the founder of Hortas Cariocas and the director of agroecology organic gardening for Rio de Janeiro’s municipal environment agency.. “A beautiful garden is a consequence of our work. The result of our production is to see how many plates of food we [are] able to serve.”
Initially created in 2006, Hortas Cariocas has now grown to involve a whopping 50,000 people, some of whom use the gardens for food, while others sell the produce for money. There are currently 56 active community gardens under the Hortas Cariocas umbrella, which are split between schools and low-income communities.
Demand for the project from local families has increased over recent years, and Hortas Cariocas has risen to the challenge. By the end of this year, the goal is to have produced 80 tons of food across all 56 parks, much of which will go to feeding families who cannot otherwise afford food.
“During the pandemic, many of our locations received an increasing amount of demand from families looking for donations, and the project was able to meet its social goal, donating more items than selling,” said William Fernandes Souza, who works at Madureira Park, one the gardens involved in the project. “As the situation got better, people started coming back looking for donations as well as to buy. It popularized the idea.”
Inspired to act?
DONATE: Support Farm Garden as they help both people and planet with their community gardens.
GET INVOLVED: Donate food to your nearest Trussell Trust food bank and help those who cannot otherwise afford to eat.