Women promote agroecological schools: a dream of collective dignity

Las Biritecas is a group of young women who, from different backgrounds, dreams and rebellions, meet to germinate, together with the communities, a project that promotes collective dignity and autonomy from an agroecological approach. These projects are carried out in the communities of Puerto Jiménez, Bahía Drake and Buenos Aires de Pérez Zeledón.

This experience began to take shape four years ago, when everyone from their reality, their trench and their training began to recognize agroecology as a powerful tool for emancipation and socio-environmental justice. Thus, we find ourselves through the Yunta Agroecológica, a group of more than 140 women agroecologists from all over Costa Rica; a powerful network of guardians of life that promotes collective work, collaboration and alliance between women to heal and care for us and mother nature. A safe space to rediscover our ancestral relationship with agriculture.

This collective experience was a source of inspiration and fertilizer for our dissatisfied ideas that did not correspond to the institutional bureaucracy or the business logic that seemed to be our only professional destiny. This is how our decisions, circumstances and desires brought us to the Osa Peninsula in the south-south region of Costa Rica and together we began to land and shape that dream of collective dignity that each of us carried in his heart, this dream has become a reality under the name of Agroecological Schools.


Let’s start then…

As in any community process, there are no recipes and transformation and adaptation are a constant; however, we all agree that we want to develop a project based on agroecology in the broadest sense, because regularly when working on this subject, technical-productive principles are the starting point. However, it was urgent for us to also promote the social and political principles that guide the organizational processes of agroecological transformation.

In this sense, we have tried to make it a process from and for the communities, which is why we start from the methodologies of popular education, in particular the “Campesinx a Campesinx” methodology, in which the communities are the protagonists of their own revolution. they have knowledge that needs to be imparted from day-to-day life in the field. Only those who really live it can share it and socialize it. Through this participatory strategy and the germination of local promoters, we seek empowerment, positive leadership and reunion and resignification with peasant and rural identities as drivers of collective change and resilience.

Itinerant South-South Agroecological Schools. Biriteca Agroecológica has found that the diversity of dimensions and elements that integrate and make up agroecology allows them to understand and work with communities from different angles. And that the processes that develop there always respond to the needs, times, histories, contexts, subjectivities and possibilities of each place or group.

Through the different agroecological schools, in which we work with groups of peasants, indigenous peoples, women and children, we have learned that the processes of each community have their own rhythm and dynamics. Our work must always be ready to listen and learn. Agroecology is not an issue that only concerns communities and peasants or people linked to agriculture; and it is not, ultimately, a formula or a recipe that can be “explained and applied”; Its multiple dimensions enable various actions and processes that involve particular elements of each population and place.

Along with this, in this process, we have reaffirmed that neither we nor any other organization or institution hold absolute knowledge, and that we are in a constant learning process with the different communities. Our interest is to collectivize and strengthen the different community processes, making available some tools of agroecology, including technical-instrumental, political, cultural elements, related to organizational issues, etc.

To date, Biriteca has succeeded in working collectively with an equitable distribution of tasks according to the possibilities and capacities of each member. This was also possible thanks to the contribution and work of an important network of collaborators and allied people, groups or organizations.

Along the way, the importance of strengthening these processes of agroecology and community becomes evident; Contracara to the anthropocentric, vertical, traditional and mercantile logics from which many institutions linked to agriculture and rurality have operated. Institutions that even use agroecology as a discourse, but still respond to extractivist capitalist interests, proposals, policies, methodologies and philosophies; These “agroecologies” are qualified by Valentín Val and Peter M. Rosset as “false agroecologies”. And we agree with them that these “false agro-ecologies” not only do not solve the serious problems caused by the agro-industrial model, but also, by reproducing its principles -resignified and masked under a “green” and “organic” varnish “-, it risks perpetuating them.

agroecology, women, feminism, education, schools, garden, cultures

It is important to emphasize that in this process, one of the most exhausting tasks that we have taken on is the constant search for the support of the government, without having received so far a satisfactory response or a real alliance; On the contrary, the knowledge of our organization has been used from utilitarian and demagogic logics. This visit leaves us with a learning that the processes of transformation of self-management are developed, on several occasions, from the margin in relation to the economic privilege and legitimacy that these institutions, companies, programs, national and international organizations have , often co-opted by agribusiness and commodification.

This is why one of the dilemmas and obstacles we face when positioning ourselves from agroecology as a critical and popular proposal for the emancipation and autonomy of peoples, is the constant search for funding and support . What we find is a panorama where resources circulate through large organizations and programs more linked to “false agro-ecologies”, which reproduce messianic, colonizing and dependent logics.

We therefore praise the alliances, the voluntary work, the individual and collective efforts that have made possible processes such as agroecological schools and, we are sure, many others that have developed in different latitudes of the world and that have been grateful, like us, for the existence, efficiency and meaning of networking. Certainly cooperation, dispersion of power, collectivity, solidarity, autonomy; they have a capacity for radical transformation that deconstructs hegemonic forms and allows other ways of being-being-thinking-feeling-acting.

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