Hortas Cariocas – Rio de Janeiro’s Urban Green Gardens

Written by Resilient Cities Network
Monday, 12 December 2022

Created in 2006 with the aim of reducing food insecurity of families living in social vulnerability, creating more jobs, generating income and keeping young people away from crime, the Urban Green Gardens (Hortas Cariocas) program is present today in 56 locations, including 29 communities and 27 municipal public schools. The program also aims to encourage the fight against food waste, discourage the irregular occupation of risk-prone areas, foster community spaces and train locals in business management.

Over the past 16 years, the program has already produced around 1,000 tons of food, benefiting more than 10,000 families. Of the total food production, 50% was distributed to residents of the communities involved in the program and the other half was sold to be reinvested in the purchase of inputs, indicating its self-management model. The program has received three international awards: Sustainable Entrepreneur Award (2015), honorable mention in the Milan Pact in the Food Production category (2019), in addition to being included by the UN in the list of essential actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Seven new vegetable gardens have been inaugurated under the current government. Between January to September 2022 alone, food production in all gardens has already exceeded 59 tons, supporting the reduction of food insecurity in the city. Currently, 283 charities contribute to the program, receiving grants ranging from R$500 to R$1,000.

Gardens with the highest production volume are Manguinhos, Jardim Anil, São Carlos, Caminho do Partido (Campo Grande) and Sulacap. Among the most produced foods are lettuce, type of kale, cabbage and herbs in the cold seasons, and sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkin and zucchini in the warmer seasons.

Rio is also moving towards having the largest urban garden in the world, with an area equivalent to 15 football fields. Today, the vegetable garden at Parque Madureira Mestre Monarco already has 55 productive garden beds and another 95 under development, expected to be completed in 2024.

For more information, you can follow Hortas Cariocas on Instagram and Facebook @hortas.cariocas or email hortascariocas@gmail.com.

This article was originally written in Portuguese.

Amid rising food demand and prices, cities must take urgent action to reduce and repurpose food waste to provide food security for their residents while simultaneously achieving economic opportunities and emission reduction. The Urban Eats campaign is mobilizing cities towards a more circular and resilient food system by: 1) creating value out of food waste, 2) redistributing excess food, 3) producing more locally, 4) promoting food habit change among city residents and businesses, and 5) strengthening collaboration across the whole food value chain. Through the sharing of city stories such as Rio de Janeiro’s initiative to produce more locally, we hope to help you consider simple yet diverse ways to manage food waste in your city. Want to inspire other cities with your story? Get in touch with llim@r-cities.org.

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