Hints & Tips
Gardening in Brazil might not have the same kind of status as it does in this country due to space limitations, but Brazilians who live in big cities are good at improvising with the resources they have available.
Vertical gardening has been transforming the city of Sao Paulo, helping to improve the environment and enabling people to grow food.
In other parts of the country, urban gardening has been taking off, and it is helping to transform the lives of some of the people in the region's poorest neighbourhoods, Inter Press Service reports.
Residents of the Parque Genesiano da Luz in the city of Nova Iguacu have been growing their own food and have established a cooperative using five per cent of their earnings. They are able to sell 70 per cent of what they grow.
Their gardens have been established on what were once empty lots. The state oil company, Petrobras, whose pipes run below the land, helped finance the project when it got underway in 2007.
Financing eventually ran out but a group of women refused to abandon their plots. They received technical help from an Urban Agriculture Programme, which was set up in 1999.
"Before getting involved in the cooperative, I only looked after my home," said cooperative member Joyce da Silva. "But afterwards, I gained economic independence. Another kind of independence is the health I achieved for my family. And also the improved living conditions. Things at home improved in general."
Many people who have migrated to urban areas from the countryside brought their farming practices with them. In poor areas people continue to grow vegetables and medicinal herbs, as well as raising small animals like pigs, goats or barnyard fowl.
While in some areas unhealthy eating habits took hold due to financial reasons – high-quality food often needs to be brought in from the countryside and people cannot afford it due to the transportation costs – cooperatives have helped to reverse the trend.
Aldeni Fausto, the president of the Univerde cooperative, said of urban gardening: "It's therapy. One little plant gives you back gratitude and love."