Popular education, youth and peasant agroecology in Brazil

M.B. Goris*, Silvia Lopes, Gerard Verschoor, J.H. Behagel, M.I. Vieira Botelho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Most young people engaged in agroecology in Zona da Mata Mineira, Brazil, participate in popular education. Popular education is a Latin-American concept that entails transformative learning, among others. Despite the large body of literature on popular education, there is little knowledge about how it supports reflection, enhances situated abilities, and affects relationships between young farmers and nature. This article looks at popular education practices in Zona da Mata in three different places: a family farming high school, a youth organization, and a workers' union school. Each place gives special attention to agroecology. Based on participatory observations, video recordings, films made by youth, interviews and analysis of educational materials this article visualizes how young people become engaged in peasant agroecology through the use of affective experiences, relationship-building, and reflection in popular education. Our findings show that the pedagogic method of alternation used at the family farming high school fosters on-farm learning experiences between young farmers and their parents. At the workers’ union school and at the youth organization intentional leisure activities promoted joy, spirituality, activism and peasant culture, with joy becoming an explicit organizing force. We conclude that, in our cases, popular education positively supports, often in unexpected ways, relations young agroecological farmers have with their parents, nature, and youth from conventional farms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online dateOct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Agroecology and youth
  • Joy
  • Pedagogy of alternation
  • Popular education
  • Scaling-out agroecology
  • Transformative learning


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