With support from Suzano, Urban Gardens Project empowers women in Três Lagoas

The initiative is developed in partnership with the Salesian Missions and benefits around 40 Três Lagoas families, of which 89% are headed by women

December 27, 2023
min. read
Urban Gardens project empowers women in Três Lagoas (MS)

Suzano, a global benchmark in the manufacture of bioproducts developed from cultivated eucalyptus, in partnership with the Salesian Missions of Mato Grosso, has been driving female empowerment, creating jobs and generating income for female-headed families in Três Lagoas. The Urban Gardens project was launched last year to help increase food security and income generation through agroecological food production. Since then, approximately 40 families in situations of social vulnerability (with income of up to R$468.00 per month) have been included in the project, which has directly and indirectly benefited an average of 160 people. Of these families, 89% are headed by women.

Currently, there are 26 families actively working in the project, and 23 of them are female-headed. These women and men receive specialized technical support, and specific instruction and courses about the best methods for growing agroecological food. They also receive assistance to grow crops and sell their surplus production.

“At Suzano, one of our Culture Drivers is ‘It’s only good for us if it’s good for the world’, and the Urban Gardens project is one of the initiatives that best reflects this belief. By supporting the use of spaces for food production in urban areas, we are helping increase food security among these families, who will have healthy food on the table, generate income and, in this specific case, drive female empowerment, since many of the benefiting families are led by women. Supporting income generation among women means reducing social inequality and contributing for the creation of a more sustainable and equal future for everyone,” said Eduardo Ferraz, executive manager at the Três Lagoas site.

The project supports one the Commitments to Renewing Life made by Suzano, which aims to lift 200,000 people out of poverty in the areas where it operates by 2030. Through the partnership with the Salesian Missions, started in 2022, the company provided basic equipment and supplies to help the families set up the community garden, located in an area owned by the Salesians behind the main church. The objective of the project is to encourage the cultivation of agroecological food—grown without agricultural pesticides—for the families to consume and sell.

Sadi Silva, coordinator of the Salesian Missions in Três Lagoas, said that the garden has been expanded and now covers an area of 50,000 square meters. “With Suzano’s support, we were able to increase the number of participants, get the Urban Gardens project up and running and even expand it over time. The Salesian Missions provided the land, enabling us to help vulnerable families grow different types of food. Families come to the garden to work on the project, and in addition to getting food for their own consumption, they also sell their production and split the profits among the participants,” she added.

Ana Karen Roman Gil, 34 years old, is one of the women whose life was transformed by the Urban Gardens project. A mother of two—a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old—she joined the program at a difficult time for her. “The project is one of the best things that has ever happened to me—it brought me back to life. Since I started working in the gardens, six months ago, I have had a little money to buy things and gotten my vegetables every week, and this has really improved how my family eats. My mood is different now, and I’m smiling again. Every morning, I go to work feeling better. The garden ended up being my therapy,” she said.

Collective Effort

The project’s cultivation model is based on collective work. Individuals who work in the garden get paid per hour worked and receive a percentage from the sale of food. Currently, everyone participating in the project takes turn performing different tasks. They can work either in the afternoon or in the morning, three hours a day.

According to Sadi, like Ana Karen, several women have reported an increase in income and in the consumption of healthy food since joining Urban Gardens. This is the case of Geiza Ferreira Miranda, 29 years old, mother of a boy. “Urban Gardens helps me complement the income I get from braiding hair and applying hair extensions. Since I started, the project has really changed my life, especially regarding my diet—I didn’t use to eat vegetables and now I do,” she said.

Where to Buy

Anyone interested in purchasing agroecological food can visit one of the project’s two points of sale: one in its headquarters on Antônio Trajano avenue, behind the main church, and one at the Central Street Market, where families sell their products.

About Suzano

Suzano is the world’s largest pulp producer, one of the largest paper producers in Latin America and a benchmark for the development of sustainable and innovative solutions from renewable sources. The company’s products, which are part of the lives of more than 2 billion people in more than 100 countries, include pulp, printing and writing paper, paper straws and cups, paper packaging, sanitary pads and toilet paper, among others. Suzano is guided by its purpose of “Renewing life inspired by trees.” The company pursues sustainability through innovation to address the challenges faced by society. With 99 years of history, the company has shares listed on stock exchanges in Brazil (SUZB3) and the United States (SUZ).


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