Using the garden as an educational strategy, this university extension project contributes in some way to improving the quality of life of students, teachers, boys and girls with disabilities, INCUPO beneficiary producers, who need to develop agro-ecological production, Trained on the subject of food safety. and healthy food.
Under the name “Agroecological Garden to Table: Food Production and Nutritional Training”, the project, in charge of agronomist engineer Selsa Noemi Balbi, becomes a didactic and educational space in agroecology, where the knowledge of producers and consumers converges. and promoter of healthy eating and nutrition.
“There is a general lack of knowledge about what it means to eat well and the link between food and production methods,” explains engineer Balbi. For this reason, Dr. Silvia Gorban de Lapertosa, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine, was strategically included in the project as co-director of the project. Her experience in educating about the benefits of healthy eating raises awareness of nutrition needed to prevent certain diseases.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”. In this sense, the nutritional aspect is one of the most relevant health pillars of the community. In the provinces of Corrientes and Chaco, there are problems of malnutrition among children and diseases related to malnutrition and obesity are becoming more evident in the population.
“Traditional foods were basically replaced with flour. It is a bit easier to access a slightly more varied diet in the countryside, but the nutritional quality is very poor in the city”, says engineer Balbi.
In recent decades, the food system has been globalized, and the food industry has established consumption habits that do not agree with cultural and identity motifs, and that waste the wealth of high-quality local food production that Available in the provinces. and natural ecosystems.
Ecological garden. The engineer describes the Balbi extension project and its scope: “It seeks to promote the local supply of agro-ecological food, generating educational spaces in which agro-ecological productive practices are taught to its protagonists.”
The educational spaces that Balbi mentions are obtained through the establishment of agro-ecological gardens in the Agricultural Sciences and Medical Faculties of the UNNE and the Educational Medical Institute Los Girasoles. There they work closely with teachers and students from both majors, members of INCUPO, Los Girasoles and other beneficiaries, who are trained in the importance of regenerative agriculture.
“We need to encourage populations to adapt diets to the rhythms of nature, promote the consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables, support the consumption of locally produced food, respect the potential of ecosystems and reduce the use of pesticides,” says Balbi. should be made aware of.” ,
The gardens designed for the project have horticultural, fruit, aromatic and medicinal species. “It is intended as a fundamental didactic tool, performative and a space for exchange.”
Training. In addition to activities in the field, extension agents provide group training on topics such as: garden production, nutrition, healthy eating, and commercialization in the free market.
A visit to the production units of INCUPO members in the city of Bella Vista is also planned, in order to advise on possible improvements and exchange experiences on agricultural orchards.
On the other hand, in Los Jirasoles, students and teachers would repeat these activities with the children participating in the NGO. “We want to tell them about the importance of a healthy and nutritious diet with fruits from the garden, we are convinced that children are the best agents of communication in homes.”
From the academic point of view, it is the aspiration of the extension agents of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences to achieve curricular curricularization of this experience. In other words, it becomes part of the study plan of the faculty’s academic offerings.