A french lockdowned in the beautiful Amalfi Coast: “In CoSTORYera” part II by Laëtitia

 

Hello, I am Laëtitia Vallée and here is my story of 6 months I spent in the small village of Tramonti (South Italy) between working for an environmental NGO, writing my thesis and visiting with a pizza in a hand, an ice cream in the other one.

 

THE ARRIVAL IN SPRING IN TRAMONTI

At the beginning of March 2020, after 10 long hours of bus, 1 hour of train, 45 minutes of bus and 20 minutes of another bus, I finally reach the beautiful valley of Tramonti, my home for following 6 months starting today.

The reason that brought me here is my final internship to finalize my master of landscape and environmental economy in order to work in environmental and international organizations. That is my dream job but one thing at a time.

The first week-end, Séraphine (another intern) and I jump in a bus direction Napoli. If you ask me to describe Napoli, I would say: crazy. All of your senses would be in panic by the smells coming from restaurants, the loud talks of Italians, the colors of clothes hanging in the streets, the delicious taste of the Margherita pizza, etc.

 

AN UNEXPTECTED TURN

Nevertheless, does “Coronavirus” ring a bell for you? If yes, you would guess that Coronavirus is stronger than my desire of adventure, the lock-down is announced only a few days later for the duration of 1 month. Then it will be extended for 2 months and re-extended until beginning of May. So, I keep spending my quarantine in a gorgeous place surrounding by mountains, between terraces and tomatoes with the collegues, dogs and sheep! After all, I have the best view of an office could have: the other side of the valley is changing though the season from brown to green with in a middle the church of Figlino. I live the quarantine like a kind of an ideal experience to concentrate on my thesis. For the very first time in my studies, I literally got absorbed by the subject of study. During the cold and windy months, my time is shared between working, eating, cooking. I belong to the type of person who learn how to make bread during quarantine but I raise the level by helping to make the ancient pizza of Tramonti. No need to explain how important food is to Italians (the secret is to talk to the food), I learn how to appreciate each ingredient in a plate.

 

   THE SEA, EVENTUALLY

The weeks and months passed by, until, one day, the end of lockdown arrived! The first day of visit feels like immersing into the breathtaking pictures I saw on websites. I cannot keep my eyes at one place, every little paths seem like an invitation to discover an authentic place and being amazed. The lemon path honor his name with the numerous terraces covered by yellow fruits bigger than oranges. The yellow competes with the blue of the Mediterranean sea for the brightest color. The path leads to the gorgeous city of Minori and after few turns on the road, we arrive on Atrani, the smallest city of the Amalfi Coast in which it’s easy being lost into the labyrinth of white and narrow stairs. Since the end of lock-down we are dutifully practicing sight-seeing every weekend and dealing with stiffness of leg’s muscles. If you visit the Amalfi Coast, be prepared to walk up and down the stairs because it is the only way to visit the cities. You have to know that the transport is one of the biggest problem of the coast, especially for interns without a car. Still in the context of Coronavirus, Séraphine and I are obviously noticeable thanks to our blue eyes and white skin. So once, we face a conflict with a bus driver who doesn’t believe us to live in Tramonti but to be instead tourists who pass the frontier despite the closing of the country. Shared between anger and shock we had to prove to the police we are legally in Italy. Adding to the suspicion for bus drivers, the rule of bus schedules is still mysterious even after 6 months. The rule seems to be “there is no rule”. So, the only solution is hitchhiking, and thankfully it is working pretty well.

 

To put in a nutshell, these 6 months were unique, peaceful and joyful despite the pandemic situation. I will definitely keep in memory the beauty of the mountains, the Coast downwards and the Italian lifestyle in general. 

 

* Laëtitia Vallée, graduate of Politic and Markets of Agriculture and Ressources at the University of Agrocampus Ouest in Angers, France. Passionate about cultural landscapes and terraces.

 

 

Meanwhile in Székely Land… sustainability youth projects in our partner region!

 

What is happening in our partner region in these days of autumn? Székely Land is a part of Transylvania in Romania and is a mountainous region rich of traditions. Around 580 thousand szekler people living in Harghita, Covasna, and parts of Mureș counties. They have many institutions who organise projects for young, middle-aged and elderly people.

8 international volunteers from different countries

Starting from September 2020 in Cristuru Secuiesc, Romania hosts 8 volunteers from different countries, like Ireland, UK, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania. They are working on different projects, like environmental education in the school, kindergarten activities and knowledge with herbs. The Herbalism project aims to promote the harvest of local plants to produce oils, soaps, syrups and other cosmetic and medicinal products. The project aims to encourage the local producers that there is still an interest and demand for these products.

Local volunteers

As well in Cristuru Secuiesc there is a local high school volunteering team, that organizes events mainly for their peers, like students’ day or freshmen’s ball. They are part Generation Z and enjoy organizing events for young people, but sometimes the communication is more difficult when it comes to dealing with other generations, and this is why the next project helps out.

Emotional Management: Tool to Fight Social Media Dependency

Nowadays on the social media everybody seems to be happy, beautiful, rich and perfect. That has a negative impact on the development of young people. In the EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT project the local youth association A.T.A is part of a Strategic Partnerships for School Education in which are also cooperating an other NGO and the local governments and  secondary schools from Spain, Portugal and Romania. Research is undertaken between October, 2019 and October, 2021, and the goal is to create a training for teachers and parents, that helps to realize the youngster false self-image and how to improve natural self-image.

There is a lot going on! It is only small part of project of A.T.A in Székely Land. If you are interested you can visit the webpage  http://ata-ro.eu/ or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ata.ong.

* Máté Anita, ESC volunteer in Tramonti, passionate about conscious living

What is the value of a terrace on the Amalfi Coast?

 

In this year between lockdown and economic and social challenges, we take this opportunity to re-investigate the character of our territory. Terraces are manyfold – beautiful, cultivated, visited, maintainance intensive. But how to measure whether this is in balance? Here we investigate the question on how to measure the value of a terrace as a cultural, social, economic and natural heritage: “The valuation of cultural landscapes” – investigated by Antonia Gravagnuolo in her thesis at the University of Naples, Federico I, 2015, and it treats highly relevant aspects for everyone living or visiting the Amalfi Coast.

A. Gravagnuolo, “The valuation of cultural landscapes. Approaches and tools for the protection and enhancement of terraced systems.” University of Naples, Frederico II. 2015

In this research, presenting also a PhD thesis, the author A.Gravagnuolo talks about the valuation and the mapping of the terraces in the Amalfi Coast (figure 1) and points out the importance of conserving such landscapes.

 

What is “a terrace”?

Terraces are agricultural systems in mountain areas using dry-stone walls or slope cover with vegetation to maintain the soil. Terraces reduces the run-off of the water and the soil erosion. In that way, soil are fertile and have a good capacity to keep the soil humid. It also provides habitats for plant and animals species.

Terraces are a primordial part of the Amalfi Coast landscape. Its ecological, social and economic values contribute to the recognition by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

Figure 1: Study Area Amalfi Coast (Gravagnuolo, 2015).

Thanks to the beauty of its landscapes and the recognition by the UNESCO, the Amalfi Coast became a famous touristic site but the mass tourism is a threat which need to be regulated. Indeed, mass tourism means pollution, traffic jams, degradation of natural resources and a concentration of tourist on only few cities. Higher incomes from the tourism sector than incomes from agriculture in the terraces lead progressively toward the land abandonment. This is the main cause of the deterioration of the terraces which means cultural, social and economic losses.

To avoid this situation, public policies need to focus on the preservation of the agricultural activities (financial support for farmers, restoration, communication or sensibilization…). Acting on the preservation means acting on the welfare of the Amalfi Coast and its inhabitants. In order to create political weight, a lot of studies put in evidence the monetary importance of environmental sites.

That is why A. Gravagnuolo’s results contributes to the conservation of the terraces of the Amalfi Coast and by extension contributes to the wide effort of landscape preservation in the world. It is also part of the process of the candidature to the MAB program of UNESCO. This program promotes the link between human and nature, the MAB sites experiment sustainable projects.

 

Ecosystem services – What does an ecosystem “for us”?

Concretely, A. Gravagnuolo’s thesis aims to evaluate economically the terraces of the Amalfi Coast by different tools. First of all, services provided by the nature are free, everyone can take a walk in a forest and can breath fresh air or can fish for instance. Free access leads to overexploitation of natural resources. As the nature is not valued directly by any markets, and because scientists are still debating about quantify and qualify nature’s services, it is difficult to put monetary values on it. Neoclassical economy developed methods by introducing the notion of ecosystem services. Here are some definitions to understand better the thesis:

“An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and the non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems.”  Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA)

“Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.” Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA)

Figure 2: Classification of ecosystem services from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Metro Vancouver

The scientific and international report Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) popularized in the 2000’s and classified those services in four categories (figure 2): Supporting; Regulating; Provisioning; Cultural. It is important to underline the interdependence of each service. If one ecosystem doesn’t provide anymore (or provides in less quantity) one of its services, other ecosystems are impacted and their services as well.

 

Results – estimating a “value”

Monetary valuation allows to quantify the ecosystem services. Many methods of monetary valuation are used among scientific studies around the world; amongst those direct market prices of terraces, costs that would occur in case of a replacement, or costs that people are willing to pay in order to benefit from the terraced landscapes (such as tourism costs) (TEEB, 2011).

In her results, A. Gravagnuolo diffused two questionnaires on social networks for residents and tourists of the Amalfi Coast. Local association such as ACARBIO helped to get answers. The first one includes 3 parts: priority of the ecosystem services, mapping information, amount of money the person interrogated is willing to pay for the preservation of the terraced landscape. With those data, market informations and maps, ecosystem services have been evaluated in a qualitative and a quantitative way.

Figure 4: Map of the recreating and touristic use in the Amalfi Coast. Gravagnuolo, 2015.

Thanks to the data from the questionnaire and the analysis of the market, specific maps have been realized to prioritize the effort of conservation. Figure 4 is an example of a map representing the cultural service “Recreating and touristic use of the landscape” classified in five categories of colours depending the density of recreating/touristic sites in the Amalfi Coast. The darker blue is associated to the high density of recreating and touristic sites. Therefore, considering the available information and the order of priority, the monetary valuation of the thesis focuses on the following key services: hydro-geologic stability, conservation of the knowledge patrimony and cultural identity; agricultural biodiversity; food production.

Applying different methods, the estimation of the value for “a terrace” arrives at different levels – they go from around 1.300 according (costs of conserving patrimony of knowledge and cultural identity) to 130.000 Eur/ha a year. Confronting this in a costs and benefits analysis, it shows that the social benefits can cover the costs of maintainance of the terraces. This could, according to the conclusions of the study, be covered through different ways, i.e. a fee of entry for the tourists and a tax for the residents of the Amalfi Coast.

 

What can we take from this?

Every contingent valuation contains bias, indeed, the amount of money that people are willing to pay can be overestimated. It is an estimation as for the others values of ecosystem services. The values above are not exact numbers or prices of the services and they cannot be compared because different methods of valuation have been used. In a general way, values from economic valuation should not be considered as absolute values but rather as estimations of the relative importance of services in order to make them more visible for citizens, companies and politics. These estimations guide public policies toward environment protection and prioritize the measures of preservations for the most important services. They underline especially one thing – that the terraces are complex cultural heritage that characterizes this territory, economic capital and social life in manyfold ways and provides a high variety of resources for the territory.

The research leds to the conclusion that the degradation of the terraces is a major problem for the Amalfi Coast but not irreversible if public policies use maps and monetary valuation of ecosystem services to prioritize the efforts. The thesis shows that apart from the heritage, terraces also do provide important monetary values though ecosystem services. Decisions and actions of preservation need to be taken at the European, National, Regional and local scales. Indeed, subsidies should come from many participants as ecosystems provide services for a wide range of people.

 

* Laëtitia Vallée, graduate of Politic and Markets of Agriculture and Ressources at the University of Agrocampus Ouest in Angers, France. Passionate about cultural landscapes and terraces.

 

Sources

  • Gravagnuolo Antonia. The valuation of cultural landscapes. Approaches and tools for the protection and enhancement of terraced systems. University of Naples, Frederico II. 2015
  • MEA 2005 – MEA, Ecosystems and Human Well-being: The Assessment Series (FourVolumes and Summary), Washington 2005.

Illustrations

  • http://www.metrovancouver.org/
  • Gravagnuolo Antonia. The valuation of cultural landscapes. Approaches and tools for the protection and enhancement of terraced systems. University of Naples, Frederico II. 2015
  • TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (2011). TEEB Manual for Cities: Ecosystem Services in Urban Management. www.teebweb.org

Additional information

If you want more information about monetary evaluation and ecosystem services, here are few links :

 

Tramonti, the farmers and the cheese: “In coSTORYera” part I by Séraphine.

Visiting local farmers and tasting fresh handmade cheese – A pre-lockdown experience.

 

In the first days of our traineeship, we went to see some local farmers engaged in the Re Fiascone activity to interview them about the tomato’s history. It was our first contact with the Re Fiascone farmers after having made some first research about the tomato project. We drove through the mountainous area and arrived at the wide fields where the farmers were working under the morning sun.

During the interview made with one of the farmers, we learned that the furry-looking seeds and the traditional know-how about the ancient tomato variety had been transmitted from generation to generation. The farmer was sharing his personal experience and how he had been introduced to the cultivation of the terraces and the history of the tomato by his mother. It was very interesting to see how enthusiastic he was telling his story, while being truly humble about it.

That day, we did not only learn new things about the tomato’s history, but also about the farmers’ daily work in the endless fields of the Amalfi Coast’s rural area. When we arrived, the farmers were working in the vineyards, tying up branches with the help of osiers – a natural alternative to wire. They were standing under the almost two meters high pergolas that define the vines of the Amalfi Coast. That height meaning constantly upholding their arms, this is a hard manual labour for the farmers. This experience was very interesting, giving us an insight into the work behind the products we may easily take for granted.

We took some photos of the farmers’ work as well as of the beautiful landscape, the promising Re Fiascone tomato seeds. Like this, we also got to learn more about the art of photography and the functions of a professional camera.

After the interview was finished, we went to a Caseificio, a cheese dairy, that was situated right next to the fields, in order to buy some fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese. We could take a look inside the small cheese factory where different cheese varieties were made by hand. When he saw us arriving, one young man interrupted his work to greet us. He made us taste some fresh and delicious egg-sized mozzarella pieces. The taste was very different from the ones you can find in the supermarket, which I rarely eat pure. It had an intense dairy aroma with a hint of salt and was almost melting in the mouth.

This culinary experience being one of the first ones we have made in Tramonti, it was by far not the only one. Consuming local products made me realize how much the taste from conventional products I was used to differs from fresh, unsprayed fruits and vegetables as well as from products like cheese, tomato sauce, jam and bread made without preservatives. As we spent the lockdown in this rural area, we also made a lot of food by ourselves. Apart from growing vegetables and fruits in the garden, we were regularly baking bread and pizza using fresh local products. The Italian diet is a very healthy one and made us change our own food choices over the months.

 

Séraphine-Noëlle Reeg * studying Tourism and Sustainability at the University of Montpellier, France

How to make Sourdough Bread

 

Being the oldest form of leavened bread, sourdough was already used at least in ancient Egypt. As many great recipes, it was probably first created accidentally when leaving out bread dough which made good microorganisms – wild yeast – develop inside of it. Those made the texture lighter and the taste better.

Before the commercial baker’s yeast was created, every bread was sourdough bread. Today, around 30-50% of the bread in Europe is still made out of sourdough.

The mixture out of wild yeast, lactic acid bacteria, flour and water is called a “starter.” The microbes inside the dough digest gluten, meaning that real sourdough is either low in gluten or even gluten-free. For our bread, we used the ancient Marc Aurelio wheat which is also lower in gluten than today’s types of wheat.

In the following video, you can see how we made our sourdough bread: 

 

Séraphine-Noëlle Reeg * studying Tourism and Sustainability at the University of Montpellier, France

ESC, un’esperienza interculturale: 16 momenti particolari

La vita è fatta di momenti: ed ecco gli “undici” momenti trascorsi da Cornelia durante il suo ESC volontariato relativo a “Green up your future”. 12 mesi (da marzo 2019 fino a febbraio 2020) nel ruolo di volontaria ESC con l’associazione Acarbio a Tramonti, in Costiera Amalfitana. 

Costiera amalfitana, Panorama

Ciao Cornelia, ci racconti cosa hai fatto durante questo anno trascorso come volontaria ESC? 

Ho letto e scritto in tre lingue; facilitato laboratori non formali in 2 lingue, fatto social media, lavorato all’aperto immersa nella natura, condiviso idee, conosciuto persone arrivate qui da tutto il mondo, ballato, cantato, parlato Italiano e napoletano, vissuto insieme a persone di più di 10 paesi diversi, sorriso, e mangiato, mangiato…

2. Che cosa ne pensi di questo programma di volontariato europeo?

Consiglio molto di farlo a chi è curioso di essere sorpreso; a chi è pronto a dare una mano, a chi è curioso di vivere in un modo diverso e di aprire la propria mente, e anche a chi non si spaventa degli imprevisti.

3. Cos’è il progetto “Green up your future”? 

Consiste nel vivere la sostenibilità in tanti modi diversi. 

4. E dell’associazione Acarbio? 

Acarbio ti “porta” nel cuore della Costiera amalfitana, con le sue tradizioni, la flora e la fauna, la biosfera, i terrazzamenti e l’agricoltura terrazzata, il patrimonio culturale, i prodotti tipici. E’ un’immersione totale e vero in questo territorio.

5. Cosa rappresenta per te la solidarietà?

E’ avere un contatto con persone diverse in momenti diversi; conoscersi in aspetti diversi (lavorativo o personale, momenti forti e anche deboli, ecc.); e aiutare chi ha bisogno.

6. E di Tramonti? 

Un piccolo borgo, protetto o staccato in un certo senso, dove puoi vedere e vivere ancora vecchie tradizioni, usi, mangiare piatti e verdure veramente tipici, che non puoi trovare altrove.

7. Una cosa importante che hai imparato sul livello professionale? 

Iniziare da una idea fino a farla diventare una cosa concreta; imparare metodi di lavoro (trovare, usare o creare “come fare…”).

8. Uno sbaglio e un successo durante questa tua esperienza? 

Abbandonare qualcosa di importante per paura o noia momentanea; osservare, analizzare, riprovare, migliorare.  Così come l’impazienza e la pazienza: con persone, con un progetto, ma anche con se stesso.

9. Una cosa che ti ha sorpreso?

L’importanza del cibo nella cultura locale: cosa mangiare, quali ingredienti usare, come cucinare e come preparare un piatto. A un pranzo tra amici o in famiglia, si può anche parlare per due ore su una ricetta.

10. Una cosa che ti ha fatto ridere? Una cosa che ti ha fatto piangere? 

Imparare il dialetto napoletano – il suono ad esempio di ‘s schiass’ ‘a sedj’ mi ha fatto ridere molto; o che esistono almeno 15 principi su come cucinare una pasta “semplice”. Ricordo durante un progetto giovanile: quando è finito, nonostante tutta la stanchezza, la pressione avuta, durante il momento di salutarsi con tutti i partecipanti, ho pianto. O quando c’erano notizie che arrivavano dall’Austria e non avevo con chi condividere questo interesse.

11. La cosa più bella? 

I terrazzamenti della Costiera amalfitana. Paesaggio culturale, creato e curato nell’arco di mille anni. Emozionalmente, relazioni umani, ridere insieme o difficoltà oltrepassate insieme ad altre persone.

12. Una cosa che più ti ha toccato?

Le cose più banali di ogni giorno che in fondo si assomigliano in tutti i paesi e che ti fanno sentire parte integrante del mondo.

Per esempio, da bambini a volte si faceva finta di dormire per essere portati in braccio dai genitori; i giovani che hanno dubbi su cosa fare nella vita (vita “standard” seguendo gli amici o i genitori, o seguire le proprie passioni ma non avendo sicurezza) dappertutto si fanno le stesse domanda; poi sulla politica: ci si può lamentare sempre e dappertutto; stesso con il meteo, ognuno in continuazione in tutto il mondo ha troppo freddo, caldo, fa troppa pioggia, troppo secco. E in queste cose non importa di dove sono le persone con cui parli; Inghilterra, Polonia, Libano, Bulgaria, Armenia, Ucraina, Romania, Turchia, Canada, Israele, Francia, Lithuania, Italia, Cina, Grecia. Alla base rimane un mondo.

13. Una cosa che hai imparato su di te? 

Sono una viennese più di quel che pensavo. 

14. Qual è il contributo che pensi hai potuto dare?

Energia e affetto in quello che ho fatto. Questo serve sempre.

15. Cosa ancora non sei riuscita a fare? 

Ci stanno ancora tante cose. Per esempio, parlare in napoletano, o far convincere della bontà della cucina austriaca e far capire che la “Sacher” non è il patrimonio culinario più importante dell’Austria. E poi imparare ancora il congiuntivo della lingua Italiana. 

16. Una cosa che terrai con te, ovunque tu andrai? 

Un approccio più aperto sulle opinioni e punti di vista meno rigidi. In tanto c’è sempre qualcosa di nuovo da imparare, e lo capisci solo se sei disposto ad allargare la tua mente. Ci sto ancora lavorando per migliorare 🙂 😀

 

Cornelia Kramsall * Environmental Management: Initiatives for sustainable development and youth.

“passionate about projects and ideas to enjoy life while greening the world – let’s keep spreading the word”

Vuoi fare volontariato all’estero? Ecco perché te lo consigliamo.

Cornelia viene da Vienna e ha trascorso 12 mesi (da marzo 2019 fino a febbraio 2020) come ESC volontaria presso l’associazione Acarbio a Tramonti, in Costiera Amalfitana.

  • Cosa è l’ESC?

European Solidarity Corps, il Corpo Europeo di Solidarietà. Il programma del volontariato nell‘ambito Europeo e internazionale dell’ Unione Europea. In pratica, il programma per andare all’estero per fare un periodo di volontariato. 

  • Cosa si può fare con questo programma?

Ci sono diversi tipi di esperienze: quelle più comuni come il volontariato al breve termine in gruppi (da 10-40 persone), il volontariato individuale fino a 12 mesi (quello che ho fatto io). Ma ci sono anche progetti meno conosciuti: per esempio progetti di solidarietà che si possono realizzare nel proprio paese. Questi sono quelli che l’associazione Acarbio vuole anche diffondere in Costiera amalfitana: perché sono grandi opportunità per i giovani del posto di realizzare le proprie idee.

  • In cosa esiste? C’è un supporto economico? 

I costi di vitto e alloggio sono coperte dal programma, insieme con un pocket money, e una assicurazione sanitaria. Per quanto riguarda le attività: queste dipendono dal progetto in cui partecipi, possono ad esempio essere attività di volontariato nell’ambito ambientale. Poi c’è il supporto di un’organizzazione d’invio: il tutoring e mentoring del progetto in cui partecipi, e ci sono eventi dell’agenzia nazionale. 

  • Perché consigli di farlo? 

Io l’ho fatto – e raccomando di farlo – per conoscere meglio piccole realtà (piccole associazioni e piccoli borghi). E’ qui che puoi vedere e vivere approcci nuovi per te,  dove sarai sorpreso, dove puoi realmente contribuire in qualcosa, dove puoi realizzare un’idea tua, e dove succede il vero scambio culturale. Poi è anche un’opportunità per vedere un mondo che prima non conoscevi, vedere realtà diverse, prendere ispirazione, contribuire alla società e alla solidarietà. 

  • Cosa hai fatto e visto in quest’anno?

In numeri: ho conosciuto persone di più di 20 paesi; insegnato in 2 lingue, parlato in 4, sono stata coinvolta nella crescita di più di 5 iniziative a livello locale; fatto workshop sull’ educazione non formale con più di 60 ragazzi del posto; ho speso più di 200 ore in progetti giovanili; conosciuto più di 10 piante o animali tipici e in particolare da proteggere e più di 20 prodotti locali; ho trascorso 4 volte una notte in montagna, e combattuto così la mia fobia della montagna; mangiato oltre 50 piatti tipici diversi; più di 52 Pizze tipiche e 365 volte pasta. 

Cornelia Kramsall * Environmental Management: Initiatives for sustainable development and youth.

“passionate about projects and ideas to enjoy life while greening the world – let’s keep spreading the word”

Isabel – agriculture, culture of our environment

During all  my life I felt the need to help to preserve the nature and the environment, because I felt afraid about climate change, food security and water pollution, so one day I asked myself, how can I help?, What I can do?

For this reason I decided to study Agroforestry Engineering and really was the correct decision. Through my study and my professional experience I learned about the conservation of the soils and the sustainable production, it means, promote the efficient use of resources involving trees, crops and animals, but the sustainable agriculture goes beyond, through it we can help improve the economic, social and living conditions of thousands of people, especially those families that are living in very remote places, in extreme environmental conditions (such as drought, floods) and families with economic difficulties and extreme poverty.

To promote sustainable production, the most important point is to understand that we can change the traditional methods for sustainable methods and we can use the products that we have in own houses and farms;  to continue,  I will explain some of the methods that have been used internationally and have given good results.

EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISMS (EM)

The Effective Microorganisms (EM) are a mixture of Lactic acid bacteria – milk (Lactobacillus spp), Yeast (Saccharomycetes spp.), Phototrophic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas spp.) EM was developed at the University of the Ryukyus – Okinawa (Japan) in the early 1980´s by professor of Horticultura, Professor Dr Teruo Higa.

The EM can be use on diferents scenarios, but specially in the agricultura the EM has the next functions:

  • EM promotes germination, growth, flowering, fruiting and ripening in crop plants.
  • EM improves the photosynthetic capacity of plants.
  • EM increases the efficacy of organic matter as fertilisers.
  • EM develops resistance of plants to pests and diseases.
  • EM improve the physical, chemical and biological environments of the soil.

We can do Effective Microorganisms, only we need the next materials for 20 litres of EM :

  • 20 liters of water
  • 1 Liter of milk
  • 2 Liters of  molasses cane or suggar
  • 100 grams of yeast
  • 1 handful of forest land
  • 1 kg of rice

Preparation:

  1. We must have a container (no red no yellow) with capacity to store 20 liters.
  2. We dissolve molasses or sugar with milk and water.
  3. We dissolve the yeast with the previous mixture.
  4. Then we wrap the handful of soil in a porous cloth and put it inside the mixture as if it were a tea bag.
  5. We cover the mixture with a porous cloth; This cloth will perform two functions, the first will permit the gas exchange during the fermentation process and the second function is to
  6. prevent the entry of animals and garbage that could damage the mixture.
  7. Wait during 10 – 15 days

Note: We cover the mixture with a porous cloth; This fabric will perform two functions, the first will be gas exchange during the fermentation process and the second function is to prevent the entry of animals and garbage that could damage the mixture.

Application:

For agricultural use we use a dose of 2 liters of EM per 20 liters of water. It must be applied in the morning hours or in the afternoon hours (not at midday) (Kyan, y otros, 1999).

VERMICULTURE

Is the culture of earthworms. The aims is to continually increase the number of worms because these will help us to getting organic fertilizers. There are an estimated 1800 species of earthworm worldwide, even though the most common and easier for work is Eisenia fetida, as well known as “redworm” (Edwards & Lofty, 1977) (Munroe) (Diaz, 2002). The role of earthworms in organic matter descomposition it´s because they help to get the fragmentation of heavy waste as such wood, roots, some leaves among others. Besides, the worms are very important to keep the healty of the soil.

We can prepare our own small or large-scale vermiculture, depending on our needs and the size of our garden and our crops. Just follow the next indications:

If you have a small space in your home you can start with two plastic boxes. The first without holes as is shown in the figure 1 it will be for receive the liquid fertilizer and the second only with holes in the bottom. In the second box, we will put mixed kitchen waste as such: peels, skins of the domatotes, potatoes, fruits, egg shells, etc. with land of forest, if you have cow manure, sheep manure or horse manure will be great, you can use them. The wastes must be in little pieces for facility the worm`s job.

Depending on the amount of waste, we must add water, it is important that the vermiculture is always wet but not in excess. If  the process is going well, it shouldn`t emit bad smells.

Note: Only organic residues, no citrics, no plastic, no toilet garbage.

AGROFORESTRY SYSTEMS

All our production systems (agriculture, livestock, forestry) must be focused on sustainability, it means, we must preserve the natural resources for the next generations. Unfortunately we are spending our natural resources (soil, water, biodiversity) thinking that we have another planet for to supply our needs.

The Agroforestry Systems are a good alternative for protecting our natural sources, because we can combine in the same place  the next elements:

  • Woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc)
  • Agricultural crops (maiz, bean, potatoes, domatoes, etc)
  • Animals (animal breeding, livestock, hens, etc)

There are a lot of different forms for to implement Agroforestry systems in our farms, to be I will show some common arrangements.

1. Live Fences

It involves trees (fruits trees, forest trees)  and/or shrubs used to replace posts made of wood, cement ot other materials. They are planted in high densities ( it means, a lot of trees). They are planted using either one species or a variety of species. This second option it´is recommended.

The importance with this arrangement is that we will stop the deforestation caused by cutting down trees to establish traditional fences besides we can connect forest fragments, in the future they can became biological corridors. In the picture 2 we can see the establishment  of Anadenanthera  peregrina (Yopo) in this case for a silvopastoril  system (animals and trees).

We need select the trees and shrubs according to the soil and environment conditions, it´s better if we using native species, but sometimes it’s necessary to use exotic species.

During my masters studies in Turkey in Forestry Engineering, I have participated in reforestation projects, especially in hillside areas and that have constant problems of landslides.

Figure 2: Anadenanthera peregrina (Yopo) using by live fences in the department of Meta in Colombia

2. Riparian Corridors

Riparian corridors are lines of trees or vegetation that protect river courses or other water courses. The contribution of riparian corridors to farms and the region can be seen in the reduction of erosion. This model is more ecological than productive, for that reason native and adapted species are very important. In the figure 3 we can see a model of riparian system.

3. Orchard Management – Horticulture

The orchard is also known like garden family, usually it isn´t a big place in which we can mixed fruits, vegetables, fruiting trees, aromatic species;  with this option we can produce our own food and in this way we consume fresh, good quality products and take care of the family economy.

During my experience with ACARBIO I learned the importance of preserving ancestral seeds, such as the variety of Re Umberto tomatoes, I have also experienced the satisfaction of cutting vegetables from the garden and putting it on our table.

Why are orchards so important?

Food is one of the most important aspects in our lives, with our chaotic and accelerated lifestyles we forget the importance of feeding ourselves well, so we choose to consume pre-cooked, frozen foods and many of the fruits and vegetables that we find in stores every time they are more expensive, they are packed in platicos and in the majority of times they are contaminated by products such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, among others.

If we consume organic foods that have been produced by local farmers we are supporting families that are committed to a more inclusive economy and at the same time we are taking care of our health and heritage. At the same time we would be motivating young people to return to work in the rural sector and see in the field a sustainable business option. To start working in our garden we must take into account:

  • Select the species according to the weather or the season (winter, summer, autumn and spring).
  • Locate the garden near some source of water, have an irrigation system (the drip irrigation system is easier in these orchards).
  • Use organic fertilizer.
  • To use different species in each harvest, that is, not to use the same site to plant the same species, because this can cause problems of pests and diseases in our garden.
  • It is also possible to use aromatic species from the area, in the case of southern Italy you can use: Basilico, Rosmarino, Salvia, Origano, Mentuccia, among others.

In the picture 3 we can see the work in the ACARBIO´s orchards, with this project ACARBIO is demonstrating its commitment to caring for the environment and preserving the native species of the area.

Thanks to experiences like these, many young people are motivated to offer our work and knowledge to promote a better world.

Figure 3: Terraces on the Amalfi Coast

 

– By Johana Isabel Perez Perez, student of agriculture

ESC – volunteering with the European Solidarity Corps at Acarbio

Do you want to get international experience? Get active for the society or the environment? Travel? Live with different people?

This is your answer!

With the ESC, the European Solidarity Corps, the Programme of the European Union, you can apply for an international volunteering experience.

WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS SAY

Listen here to our volunteer Lydia talking about her experience.

 

Or read about what our volunteer Cornelia says about the ESC: https://www.blogcielomareterra.it/?p=1661 and her experience: https://www.blogcielomareterra.it/?p=1687

THE ESC

Find out more about the ESC here: europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en