computers for members of the movement and their families. To one side, another room with the community radio inaugurated less than a year ago. We walk and see a large nursery. That’s where seedlings for gardens and communal lands claimed by the movement come from. In the back is a bodega where grapes are pressed and “Campesino” wine is bottled. At one side is the fruit and vegetable processing plant, which produces tomato sauce, jams, and the wide variety of products that prove that resistance and production are both necessary and possible. In the center, the “Campesino School,” a space that they are proud of.
The movement is ten years old. It was born in December 2002, in the midst of demonstrations in front of the Lavalle municipal government. The demonstrations were called by collective organizations in the area to demand that farms abandoned in the wake of bankruptcy caused by the economic crisis be given to the unemployed for their subsistence. Instead, municipal officials gave the information they had received from the campesinos to big business, to facilitate new businesses in the area. “That’s when we learned that we couldn’t expect anything from the state,” said a member of the UST.
The organization now has 700 families. They are divided into five regional organizations and 30 base groups. With 200 families and seven base groups, Jocolí, for example, is perhaps the most important. “A base group is a group of families within a specific territory that has an identity and meets regularly to define tasks,” explains Facundo, an agronomist who came to live in this arid corner in the north of Mendoza.
In addition to being organized by regional territory, the movement has five program areas: production and distribution, education, health, communication, and territory. It has groups defined by gender and groups for children, with camping, music workshops, and games. Our discussion focused on production, which involves a horizontal chain that begins with the nursery and ends with the agricultural fairs and fair trade networks that reach the tables of consumers, whom UST members hope will become increasingly conscious of what they are consuming.
A group of four people is in charge of the nursery where they raise tomato seedlings, melons, watermelon, vegetables and flowers, Carolina explains. They buy seeds and grow them until they can be transplanted. At that point, there are several possibilities: They can be sold
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