'I used to see them as a bunch of rioters': Brazil's radical farmers

Landless workers who occupied disused and degraded farmland were finally given plots – and have transformed them into fields of bounty through agroforestry.

One day in 2005, Zaqueu Miguel was driving his bus through the outskirts of the city of Ribeirão Preto, in south-east Brazil (link is external), when he noticed a group of people camped near a rural property.

He discovered that the camp was called Mario Lago, and that the people there were demanding the expropriation of the land – vacant and degraded – in order to use it for farming. Miguel, who had grown up on a farm and had dreamed ever since of having his own piece of land, didn’t think twice. He packed some basics and joined them, keeping his job and family in the city but spending nights in a shack at the camp.

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