Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Maria and her plants

Author: Severin Halder
Organisation: ASPTA
Contact: severinhalder[at]

Bringing AgriCulture to the city - Maria and her urban plants

Maria grew up surrounded by plants and animals on the family farm in the rural areas of north-eastern Brazil. Maria always helped the father on the fields and her mother with the preparation of the meals, teas, juices and herbal medicines. After marriage she moved to the metropolis Rio de Janeiro searching luck, work and a new live following the dream of the glimmering urban lifestyle. Shortly after her arrival in one of Rio’s favelas (slums) she founded herself frightened and desperated by the different and unexpected circumstances. She had to realise that living in the favelas of Rio means, that you have to deal with an day to day reality of violence, pollution, unemployment and poverty. Maria founded herself unhappy to live far away from her so loved plantations, so she started to search for some kind of substitution. But Maria does not have any space, like a backyard, terrace or even a garden to plant, so she decide to plant in front of the house in the street. She started to plant herbs and vegetables which she already planted with their parents.

Today Maria has two children which learn with her how to plant and take care of the herbs and vegetables, which kind of herb you can use for what kind of meal, how to prepare tea and also which plant you can use for what kind of diseases. Once Maria already saved the live of her daughter when the public health point wasn’t able to help her and left her alone with the small child. She remembered the prescription of her mother and cured the high fever with an mixture of herbal teas. Maria distributes a lot of seeds, seedlings and knowledge. A lot of neighbours visit her and her small garden to learn more about the plants, because she likes to share the experiences and to donate plants, leaves or seeds.

Every time Maria touches the soil and the plants in front of her small hut she remembers her of her childhood in the country side and she starts to smile because she managed to build a bridge between her family in the favelas of Rio and her parents in the country side. A green connection between her rural past and her urban present. Maria is happy and proud to show to everyone that she was grown up surrounded by plants and that she will never stop to continue to live this way.


Maria from Rio & her plantsMaria from Rio & her plantsMaria from Rio & her plantsMaria from Rio & her plants

Local Organising Committee