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First World Conference on Family Organic Agriculture
By Matt Drewno, Green Belt Mini-Farm Manager
Photos: Matt Drewno

Opening Night at the First World Conference on Family Organic Agriculture
Opening Night at the First World Conference on Family Organic Agriculture
(John Jeavons on Left)

From November 24th to 29th, 2014, the Universidad Católica Tecnológica del Cibao (UCATECI) in La Vega, Dominican Republic, held the First World Conference on Family Organic Agriculture with the Biointensive Method. At the event, Biointensive farmers from around the world gathered to teach and share experiences about small-scale Biointensive farming in their communities. Over 350 participants from 35 countries (including Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, the US and virtually every Latin American country) gathered in the grand hall to participate in this incredible event. In the Dominican Republic alone, there is a network of over 100 small Biointensive gardens, and many of their representatives were present at the conference. To those who couldn’t make it, much of the event was broadcast over the Internet and on local television!

The event kicked off with government officials, farmers, University faculty, and students celebrating the achievements of the growing Biointensive agricultural movement blossoming across Latin America. The training included the inauguration of the new Biointensive garden at UCATECI where students will be trained in Biointensive food-raising. Amidst the celebrations, classes were taught by a long list of Biointensive farmers, many of them former interns and apprentices at Ecology Action and now leaders in their communities. These included: Eric Buteyn (USA), Pedro Almoquera (Spain), Mateo Gonzalez (Mexico), Yesica Nina (Peru), Agustín Medina (Mexico), Marisol Tenorio (Mexico), and Franck Tonduer (Nicaragua). Isidro Alejo, a former Ecology Action intern now teaching at UCATECI, was instrumental in putting the conference together, hosting, and breaking ground in their new beautiful garden.


Agustín and Marisol Demonstrate Composting
Agustín and Marisol demonstrate composting

Courses were taught on all aspects of Biointensive agriculture. In addition, there were over 25 presentations of individual and community projects involving Biointensive agriculture from around the world. John Jeavons and Juan Manuel Martinez (director of ECOPOL in Mexico) worked together to tie in the great necessity and importance of the work of growing soil, food and community. 

I was deeply touched by the event. Meeting Biointensive farmers from so many countries gave me a new perspective on how vital and important the Biointensive movement is. Seeing how this work has enriched people’s lives and communities is something I will never forget. And since then, I find myself working harder, more dedicated to the work of creating a more equitable and sustainable future.

In closing, the rector of the University, Pbro. Dr. Julio Martin Castillo Mejia, shared the story of a world-famous Cuban ballerina who once performed in the Dominican Republic. Opening night the tickets were outrageously priced and sold out. After the performance, the ballerina realized it was her worst performance. The second night, tickets were cheaper and the crowd more modest, but the performance was different and in fact, her best.

Reflecting on the night, the ballerina realized that it was actually the crowd that made the performance. She was inspired by the audience and their love for the art, and this came through her and created a performance that will never be forgotten. The First World Conference on Family Agriculture was so successful because we were that audience and we created it together. Many thanks to ECOPOL, UCATECI, and all those who helped to make this event possible. Without your work and dedication, this amazing opportunity would have been missed! Thank you!!

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