Rural producer Waldir Pollack has over 20 years of experience in pesticide-free home gardening and shares what he has learned
It is through the teachings of rural producer Waldir Pollack, who was struck by the Fundao dam collapse, that dozens of people in the Mariana (MG) region are having access to sustainable organic agriculture practices. In partnership with the Renova Foundation, Waldir is offering home gardening courses. The classes take place bi-weekly on his property, in the community of Paracatu de Cima (MG).
Over two decades of dedication to the practice of sustainable agriculture in the region, making Mr. Waldir a promotor and advocate of the benefits of healthy food, free of pesticides and other chemicals. “After I lost my wife to cancer, I began to study more on the subject and found that much of what we are is directly related to the food we eat. So I started to take better care of myself and spread the word about the importance of eating pesticide-free products to other people. After that, my life completely changed,” he said.
According to the producer, the partnership with the Foundation is also contributing to the preservation of local biodiversity. “The whole process of monitoring the agro-ecological gardens contributes to our forests, and our flora are in continuous protection because it is all a cycle. In addition, we are promoting sustainable knowledge,” says Mr. Waldir.
During the training, focused on affected farmers from Mariana, Barra Longa, Santa Cruz do Escalvado, Ponte Nova and Rio Doce, topics are discussed related to agroecology, such as recognition of soil problems, plant metabolism, productive planning of vegetable gardens, sales and organic certification, among others. Participants also receive study material and observe appropriate vegetable production practices.
At the last meeting, which took place on 11/21, the couple Jose Firmo and Maria Aparecida Souza, farmers from the Jeronimo community in Santa Cruz do Escalvado, were happy with the opportunity to learn more about organic agriculture. “It was absolutely beneficial, especially because we also have vegetable gardens around the house and we needed to learn this special technique with Mr. Waldir. And it was great. We already want to learn more,” says Mrs. Maria.
For the social and environmental program specialist of the Renova Foundation, Vitor Hermeto, the action seeks to foster cooperation and sustainable production in the region. “All the participating producers are receiving vegetable gardens and orchards as a way of repairing for the damages. We hope to start a network of agro-ecological farmers in the Gualaxo do Norte Basin, who can come together to facilitate sales and add value to local production,” explained the expert.
Want to know more about Mr. Waldir’s experience? Watch this episode of the series Stories: On the Road to Recovery.