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"Cultivating Change: 'Women Feeding Cities' Empowers Brazilian Communities Through Urban Agriculture"

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The Women Feeding Cities team is one of the two teams of the USP-ESALQ, Brazil, that participates in the Food Systems Innovation Challenge. All 18 teams have been working on their project for almost two months now and we would like to see their progress and overall contributions to the challenge. To this end, we conducted an interview with Women Feeding Cities. If you are interested in learning about their developments and insights, please continue reading!

“Can you introduce your team?”

“The "Women Feeding Cities" project is a socio-environmental initiative aimed at empowering women in vulnerable social situations through urban agriculture. We aim to promote food security, environmental sustainability, and local economic development. Our group, consisting of Vanessa Alves, Joana Gabriela, Camila Lopes Moraes and Kate Axten participates in the Food Systems Innovation challenge to expand and mature the project, aiming to turn it into an autonomous social enterprise.”

Vanessa Alves

“My name is Vanessa, and I am a Business Administration student at USP-ESALQ. This challenge is an opportunity for our project, which I have been involved with since 2021. During this time, I have formed a strong bond with the project and am seeking new partnerships to help it grow, become known, and develop to stand on its own. I am from Maracaí, a small town in the interior of São Paulo, known for its festivities involving "Menino da Tábua," a religious figure who passed away in the city.”

Joana Gabriela

“My name is Joana, and I am a Forest Engineering student at USP-ESALQ. Since the age of 16, I have been involved in the third sector with social impact projects. I have been participating in the "Women Feeding Cities" project at the university since 2021, and I believe this challenge is a great opportunity to evolve, mature the project, and turn it into a social enterprise. I am from Salvador, in the northeast of Brazil, a city so far from the country's economic center.”

Camila Lopes Moraes

“I am Camila Lopes Moraes, an Environmental Management student at ESALQ-USP. I decided to participate in the challenge because I consider it a great opportunity for personal growth and development. Additionally, our project can reach more people and have an even greater impact on the lives of women in vulnerable conditions, working to eradicate hunger and help the environment, which I consider a life purpose. I am from São Paulo, the largest and most populous capital in Brazil, but currently reside in Piracicaba, São Paulo.”

Kate Axten

“I am Kate Axten, from Canada and I am currently studying International Food Business, which has taken me to the Netherlands for my second year of study. I wanted to take part in the challenge because I wanted to learn and connect with others interested in changing the food systems. There is a lot I can learn from others, especially in other parts of the world. I believe the team's expectation is to successfully implement the Women Feeding Cities project and see positive outcomes in the community. For me, the first steps in the challenge have been learning about this amazing project and meeting my teammates. The team's goal is to create a beneficial network for both the women in the community and the land and environment. So far, I have really enjoyed the workshops and learned a lot. Overall, I am hoping to learn how innovative food system changes look in different contexts and how women really can feed cities!”

"Can you describe the current progress and activities your team has been engaged in?"

“Since the beginning of the project, we have worked intensely to engage the community and build partnerships that allow us to achieve our goals. The workshops have been a significant source of learning and knowledge, through which we have been able to visualize the implementation of the project more simply and efficiently.”

“What is the main goal of your project?”

“Our main objective is to make the project autonomous by September, directly benefiting women by providing autonomy, social entrepreneurship, and environmental awareness through urban agriculture. We want to ensure that the project can sustain and grow, providing a lasting impact on the community, strengthening its economy and bonds.”

"What are your team's expectations for the project?"

“Our team is motivated and full of expectations for the project's future. We hope to learn and develop a lot and make the project well-known to reach, help, and support many women in vulnerable social situations. We are focused on establishing partnerships, especially with public organizations such as CRAS (Reference Center for Social Assistance), municipalities, and others, to ensure the project's success and sustainability.”

"What immediate actions are you planning to undertake as part of this project?"

“The first steps we are taking in this challenge include establishing crucial partnerships and obtaining the necessary resources for the project's implementation. We have been in dialogue with CRAS and the municipality regarding the use of an abandoned plot of land near CRAS to start the project and ensure solid and effective implementation.”

"As we wrap up our discussion, do you have any final thoughts or messages you'd like to share about your project?"

“We are excited about the opportunity to participate in this challenge and confident that with our dedication, we will achieve our goals. Participating in the challenge has been a great growth and learning experience, and we are very grateful. Together, we can create a more sustainable and inclusive future, eradicating hunger for women and their families in our community.”

The other team of USP-ESALQ that participates in the Food Systems Innovation challenge is the team "AgroEssential". Dive into their innovative concepts and check out all the other selected teams here!

More information about the Food Systems Innovation Challenge can be found on the website or on our community page.

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Maaike de Wit

Communication Coordinator WUR Student Challenges (Wageningen University & Research)

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