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Ernst Götsch has been dedicated to process agriculture for 42 years. His work has influenced farmers and students around the world. The Training Field is an area on his farm in Bahia that receives students of various nationalities to learn about the systematization of the principles through which nature works, unveiled by the researcher from what he called syntropic agriculture. Every year the Olhos D’Água property receives interns for the training program.

On this visit to the Olhos D’Água farm, at the beginning of the first half of 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had the opportunity to follow a bit of the routine of Andrim Rieser, a young Swiss man who came to Brazil in search of applied knowledge by Ernst. The open clearing in the middle of the forest is both a laboratory and a classroom for hundreds of students learning how to initiate biodiverse agroforestry systems. Watch “Field of Formation”, an independent audiovisual production made by Instituto Nova Era, Arica Cinematográfica, Agenda Götsch and Cepeas.

In March 2019, José Carlos (Carlito), son-in-law of Ernst Götsch, started with his children the construction of the wooden house for Matilde, one of the daughters of the farmer and researcher. The architectural project was all thought and designed by Ernst. At the beginning of the first half of 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the work was practically completed, with only flooring and plumbing missing. “I’ve always designed the buildings on my farm, I’ve never done anything like this for others. This house is the first, a pilot project that can be a model of cheap and sustainable civil construction, inserted within a natural ecosystem”, emphasizes Ernst.

As in process agriculture, here external inputs are also almost zero. With the exception of cement for the foundation, nails and screws to fix the woodwork, everything came from the forest. Trees that provide wood for civil construction are abundant on the Olhos D’Água farm. They can be legally managed and cut for this purpose whenever a new area for planting is opened or in connection with the cultivation and management of the cocoa plantation. “Construção Rural” is another unprecedented audiovisual production made by Agenda Götsch, Instituto Nova Era and Cepeas. Watch!

In the early 1980s, Ernst Götsch donated a piece of land to the municipality of Piraí do Norte (Bahia) to subdivide the rural area acquired by him and to “pacify” the surroundings of the rural property. At the time, the municipality in Bahia did not keep its word and the place ended up occupied by several families in the region. Years later, Ernst made a new donation of land in lending to three families. The lending contracts are registered with a notary in the city of Gandu. This type of partnership relationship in which the farmer cultivates the cocoa plantation and helps to preserve the environment persists to this day. Farmers have autonomy to negotiate cocoa with the buyer they want, in addition to keeping all the profit from the sale to their families.

On the other hand, they keep the forest standing. The village of Massaranduba has respect and gratitude for “Seu Ernesto” – that’s how most people call him. The relationship of partnership and friendship between him and the cocoa farmers lasts until today. At least seven families still maintain this type of loan agreement for land use and environmental preservation. Who profits from all this is nature itself! The almost 500 hectares of Atlantic Forest, where the Olhos D’Água farm is located, were recovered in four decades of hard work and syntropy. Seu Ernesto is yet another unprecedented audiovisual production jointly produced by Agenda Götsch, Instituto Nova Era and Cepeas. Follow!

In the first half of 2020, Ernst Götsch started on the São Francisco farm, in Serra Grande, Bahia, the implementation of the biodiverse systems project in 70 hectares of degraded pasture. The objective is to produce cocoa in the lower strata and diversify the medium, high and emerging strata with açaí, pupunha, coconut, jackfruit, among other fruit species. This work is the result of a partnership with Instituto Nova Era, a civil society organization based in Ribeirão Preto/SP, which aims to regenerate forests, recover the natural ecosystem of this region of the cocoa coast and “pay the debt to the planet”, as likes to point out the 72-year-old Swiss.

This union between Agenda Götsch and Instituto Nova Era also foresees the implementation of the Center for Research in Syntropic Agriculture (CEPEAS “Mata Atlântica”), so that research and scientific studies of the various models of process agriculture are carried out, as well as how to share the results with as many farmers as possible. CEPEAS is a dream envisioned by Ernst, and founded by biologist and agronomist Fernando Rebello, who has been a student of Ernst for 24 years. The “Biodiverse Systems” project at the São Francisco farm is the first material jointly produced in this new phase of Agenda Götsch, Instituto Nova Era and CEPEAS. Follow!

Ernst Götsch is the creator of syntropic agriculture, a practice that aims to harmonize human activities with the natural processes of life existing in each place. The technique is based on the natural succession and stratification of each species considering the life cycle and space of each living being. See about the life of Ernst Götsch, information about syntropic agriculture, events and upcoming courses. Visit: “We are not smart. We are part of an intelligent system” 

 E. Götsch

Agenda Gotsch continues its purpose to tell successful stories about real experiences. In this episode, we present a large-scale agroforestry experiment located in São Paulo, Brazil.

A greenish spot stands out in the undulating landscape surrounding Poções, a small town in the semi-arid region of Bahia. There, the profusion of cactuses, succulents and Caatinga trees contrasts with the degraded pasture and bare soils of the surrounding area. The person responsible for the “oasis” is retired engineer Nelson Araújo Filho, aged 66. Sitting in the shade of an umbuzeiro, Araújo says that for many years that area, which belongs to his father, was home to corn and cassava fields. It then became pasture for cattle. But years of intensive use have depleted the soil and left it on the verge of becoming a desert — a phenomenon that affects around 13% of the land in the Brazilian Semiarid region, according to the Satellite Image Analysis and Processing Laboratory at the Federal University of Alagoas. Araújo began reversing the process three years ago with the implementation of an agroforestry system on 1.8 hectares, an area equivalent to two football fields. The method, which has been adopted in several Brazilian regions and around the world, mirrors the functioning of the original ecosystems of each region. Araújo is a “student” of the Swiss Ernst Gotsch, who migrated to Brazil in the 1980s and is one of the main promoters of agroforestry systems in Brazil. He transformed his 500-hectare property in Piraí do Norte (BA), previously very degraded, into an example of recovery, leading many people and even multinational companies to seek out Gotsch to help them with their plantations. In this video, our reporter João Fellet went to meet them both in the semi-arid region to show how, in Gotsch’s words, it is possible to introduce forests and “plant water” in lands in the process of desertification. Check out.

Farm Rebellion – Benedikt Bösel was an investment banker, but the financial crisis arrived and, with it, the search for purpose. Today, he is a farmer and the visionary leader of a team of young people who are testing a radical new type of agriculture in the fight against climate change. Alongside experts such as Auma Obama, from Kenya, Jean-Martin Fortier, from Canada, and Ernst Götsch, from Brazil, change needs to happen. Together with his team and his wife Tess Ward, Benedikt wants to prove that his regenerative experiments can be a model to be replicated around the world. Paula, who wants to change career, sees the farm as an opportunity for a different life. For José and Lea, this is the first step towards building their own farm in Chile. It’s the beginning of an arduous year of battling drought and personal limits for Benedikt and his team.