Contestado Settlement celebrates 25 years with two days of celebration, in Lapa (PR)

Community is made up of more than 160 families and advances agroecological production and local development

By MST PR Communication and Culture Sector

The families of the Contestado settlement, located in Lapa (PR), celebrated their 25 years of construction of Agrarian Reform in two days of celebration, on Saturday and Sunday, March 2nd and 3rd.

The program for the first day, Saturday (02), featured a nature walk, the “Circuito do Contestado,” with a total route of 10 km and expected to last 3 hours, passing through trails, waterfalls, productive units of peasant families and much more. There was also be a fair with products from Agrarian Reform, local cuisine, colonial coffee, a football tournament and lots of music.

On the second day, Sunday (03), the program featured a political event with a mystica of the 25 years of the settlement and 40 years of the MST, with a barbecue, a football tournament, and, for end the day, the birthday cake.

“We have very good expectations for the party, we are already rushing to get everything organized and beautiful for the weekend!” commented Odair Trizote, a member of Assentamento do Contestado.

Advances in agroecological production and local development

The area where the settlement is located today was an unproductive property, with debts and a history of slave labor. The occupation took place on February 7, 1999, and today it is a place to live and produce healthy food for 160 families.

Located within the limits of the Devonian Escarpment Environmental Protection Area, the name of the settlement refers to the popular resistance of the Contestado War, which took place from 1912 to 1916. The armed conflict involved squatters and small landowners, the federal and state governments of Santa Catarina and Paraná, victimizing more than 10 thousand people.

In this territory with marks of regional history, agrarian reform made it possible for hundreds of people to achieve a dignified life. The production of food without pesticides has gained strength in the community since they came together to create Cooperativa Terra Livre, in 2010, 100% agroecological. The cooperative guarantees the commercialization of the production of settled families and also of municipalities in the region, through fairs, agroecological baskets, and also through the national School Feeding (PNAE) and Food Acquisition (PAA) programs.

The Cooperative delivers around 700 tons of food per year through the State PNAE, and 400 tons of food in the municipality of Curitiba. In total, 172 state schools are served between Lapa and Curitiba. The diversity of food sold is great: there are 70 items, including vegetables, legumes, foods, grains, jams and sweets and vacuum packed, all of agroecological origin. Terra Livre is one of 25 Agrarian Reform cooperatives organized throughout Paraná.

To build a complete production cycle, the cooperative built a nursery with a production capacity of 2,000 vegetable seedlings monthly, and a 400 square meter shed to store and organize the distribution of food.

Over its 25 years, the settlement has also advanced in the development of community initiatives, which guarantee access to the main basic rights and services essential to human life. The community space is made up of a Basic Health Unit, with a medicinal garden and support with alternative popular health therapies, a football field, and the Casarão Cultural Center(link is external).

Education also gains central space in the community, with a municipal school, a state college, and the Latin American School of Agroecology (ELAA), which offers technical and higher education courses for beneficiaries of the agrarian reform.

The settlement also hosts fortnightly joint efforts with the Marmitas da Terra collective, in which city workers, members of the collective, plant, manage and harvest agroecological foods. The food harvested is used in solidarity actions and community kitchens in Curitiba and the region.

The community also participated in dozens of solidarity actions, donating food that was most needed during the pandemic. The initiatives were part of a national MST campaign during the pandemic period. In Paraná alone, more than 1200 metric tons of food produced in Landless communities were shared.

*Edited by João Carlos – Translated by the Friends of the MST (US)