The Farm of Francesco, a change that rises from the earth
On World Food Day, which will be celebrated on October 16, we present the story of Virginia Solis, a young Argentinian entrepreneur. She and other friends have recently launched a company that revolutionizes the system of agricultural production and the redistribution of food.
“My family works in the agricultural production sector. From an early age I’ve always felt this call to work with producers to bring a change in society, a change that began with the earth.” Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish is a 29-year-old Argentinian businesswoman. She has a company that trades “yerba mate”, a traditional Argentine drink, working directly with small producers. She belongs to the Economy of Communion Project, which proposes an alternative way of understanding the economy, based on the values of communion, gratuity, and reciprocity. She has always dreamed of taking action to combat problems related to agricultural production, environmental protection and the redistribution of resources. “I dreamed of a system that promoted collaboration on a global level but didn’t lose sight of the local dimension; indeed, a system that put the human person at the center”.
Where to start? Virginia found an answer about a year ago, during the Economy of Francesco event, which Pope Francis desired and aimed at young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers engaged in practicing a different economy. In other words, to use the words of Pope, an economy “that brings life and does not kill, includes and does not exclude, humanizes and does not dehumanize, takes care of Creation and does not rob it.” During the workshops, Virginia met other young producers and entrepreneurs who shared her ideas and her questions. So, little by little, they started looking for answers together.
“It is estimated that humankind has about 40 more years before the soil used today for cultivation stops being fertile. In other words, if we continue to work the land as we do now, in 40 years we will no longer be able to cultivate it to feed ourselves.” Virginia and 10 other young people started their company, The Farm of Francesco, to help fight the desertification of the soil. The entrepreneur explains that there are methods that allow the land to be cultivated in a sustainable way, without making it sterile, but most farmers do not know those methods. So here is the idea: to create environments in which producers can learn these practices. “We have decided to start two demo farms, that is pilot farms, in Nigeria and Brazil. We apply regenerative agriculture on these farms and, at the same time, teach this method to other small producers”.
The objectives that The Farm of Francesco has proposed are ambitious and expected to be achieved by 2030: to build 250 demo farms, each of which should generate an average and minimum impact of 50,000 hectares of restored land that will affect 10,000 young people and their communities. These results are achievable through a system based on professional training education.
“To get started we decided to launch a fundraiser on our website to form an initial seed capital”. By donating $10.00, a person can adopt and help in the regeneration of one square meter of land, which will be used to grow food, regenerate the soil, and have an impact on the life of the local community.
“Another fundamental pillar of our company is the fight against hunger. We have realized that in countries where there are small or medium growers, there are also severe problems with nutrition. “Why not make sure that the food produced helps to nourish the local community?” This is how the idea of designing ‘demo farms’ was born, using to the principles of permaculture, that is, first satisfying the nutritional needs of the people who live in the local area.
Zero Hunger is the second goal for Sustainable Development of the 2030 Agenda. The Farm of Francesco has made it a fundamental pillar of its business.
“The idea of our company is not new but comes from looking at the environment around us to understand how to have a positive impact. I really like Pope Francis’s idea that every change comes from observing: you have to see what is happening around you, and then think about how to change it”. Virginia invites all those who are interested in the project and want to do something on a more local level, to join The Farm of Francesco. “It is an open invitation to everyone. My dream is that everything we do is pushing us to love more. To love the earth more, to love others more, to love ourselves more”.
To see the entire interview with Virginia Solis, click here: