A yard that grows sovereignty – Maria de Lourdes’s Experience
In the community of Bom Jardim, district of São João dos Queiroz, located in the municipality of Quixadá (Ceará), lives the 44-year-old farmer Maria de Lourdes Lopes Alves. This gentle and warmhearted woman is the mother of Claudiano, 15, and Ana Caroline, 20, who all contribute to work in the family yard when they are not in school. Maria has the help of her whole family, including her parents; Mr. João Firmino and Mrs. Maria Lopes, better known as Carmelita. The old couple, even at an advanced age, still collaborate as best as they can to the family production.
When the subject is women’s autonomy, Lourdinha promptly says she is involved in the struggle for the women rural workers’ right. In addition to being a farmer, she is also active at the Catholic Church in her community and take part in the ‘Central Sertão Farmers Network’, where she has a leading role. For Lourdinha the involvement of women with the agroecological movement contributes to the protagonism and autonomy of the workers as a whole.
“I had a beginning of depression and with that I started to be very quiet, I didn’t like to go out, but then my friend Marcinha woke me up, she started inviting me to the meetings. I said, “No, I won’t!”. You see, I don’t like meetings. Until one day I finally attended a meeting at Mr. Aureliano’s house in Aroeiras. That day I got so moved. Then I kept waiting for the next ones”, she says.
She also give great importance to the growth and technical enrichment brought by social training initiatives, such as the cooperation in the ‘Agroecological Farmers Network’, and the technical advice she gets from CETRA. On her property of just 0.8 hectares, Lourdinha produces a great diversity of fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants, such as cashew, soursop, acerola, banana, guava, passion fruit, papaya, chives, coriander, cauliflower, tomato, pepper, lettuce, arugula, chard, jerimum, cucumber, gherkin, melon, mint, bilberry, hollyhock, lemongrass, corama, and cassava. Lourdinha, along with other women from the community, sells this production at the ‘Quixadá Agroecological and Solidarity Fair’, and the Agroecological Fair ‘Antonio Conselheiro Space’ in Quixeramobim, and at the ‘Agroecological and Solidarity Fair’ at CETRA’s headquarters in Fortaleza.
The priority of the family production is for its own consumption and the exceeding part is sold in the agroecological fairs, where one can find a variety of fresh products, such as corn cake, cheese, free-range chicken, eggs, green beans and many other others. Working in her yard and participating in her your community’s social activities gives Maria courage to face life’s challenges and overcome the difficulties she encounter. With joy and hope, Lourdinha tells us about the value of her yard: “My yard is very valuable, because it brings food sovereignty to my family and complements our income”.