Sow, reap and share: Pé na terra’s novel proposition
The Pé na terra (portuguese for “foot in the ground”) group, winner of the Rural Youth Innovation Award in the Food security category, was born of the union between three families from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Its main purpose is to promote healthy, eco-responsible small hold farms. The first two families of farmers own the Viva Flor and Dossel companies, regional producers of nearly 120 varieties of organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, edible flowers and honey, by way of a sequential agroforestry system.
The third family owns a restaurant called Utopia in the county of Sanaduva, which loans its premises for weekly fairs, with the intent of selling Viva Flor and Dossel’s production. The restaurant also prepares dishes with their unsold produce and offers a fair and affordable price for the local population.”Innovation within our group lies in the communication between the agriculturalist, the restaurant and the consumer. This line of communication keeps food waste to a minimum”, explained Naiara, who works on production, commercialization and advertising at Viva Flor.
In 2017, the proprietors of Viva Flor and Dossel began to supply their products to the restaurant. The idea of organizing fairs to teach and sell organic raw materials used by the restaurant matured until 2018, when all three families decided to formally band together and created the Pé na terra group. “Since then, in addition to our weekly fairs at the restaurant, our unsold surplus is used by the restaurant, which manages to adapt its daily menu to our seasonal products ”, claimed Naiara.
The fairs are a space that fosters cultural exchange and is introducing concepts like slow food, which are gaining ever more traction among the youth. They also allow for the introduction of non-conventional food products, like ora-pro-nobis, beet greens and caruru, among other native plants. In fact, it was their wish from the very start to encourage the use of these lesser-known plants in their fairs, through chatting with the customers while offering appetizers made from them. Curiously, few people came, probably due to their wariness towards new products they weren’t used to consuming. Those that took part, however, were pleasantly surprised, and excitement grew. Furthermore, with the return of traditional agriculture and use of native seeds, the elderly locals were beginning to remember their flavours. This is due to emotional memories evoked by food, in addition to flavours evolving over time.
“Since we worked with an agroforestry system, our principles are based on recovering the soil, diversity and the natural cycles of production. This behaviour isn’t very common in our region. Because of this, we sometimes feel a little like an island”, said Josué, agriculturalist and businessman at Dossel. That’s why it’s so important we expand, together with the local population, the exchange of good practices regarding local ecosystems.
Little by little, the Pé na terra group is earning the trust of its customers. Lately, they have extended these moments of exchange during their fairs to share books and information to their consumers. They are also building relationships with schools, where they teach new generations to respect the earth’s pace. The group doesn’t think about competition. Besides selling food, they want to share an ideal, hone the local economy and agriculture, protect their ecosystems and expand the number of attendants in their fairs, especially among the youth. To show them it is possible to live in and off the countryside, all the while respecting nature. Given time, they want the Utopia restaurant to be a beacon of inspiration and an example of commitment to the agriculturalist.
Six months ago, the Pé na terra group took part in the Rural Youth Innovation Award because it wanted to “sow, reap and share” its good practices. Today it invites us to join it, consuming in a conscientious, responsible manner. Let’s not forget that, we are what we think, we are what we do, but we also are what we eat.
For more information about the Pé na terra participants, visit: