From a young age, Marcelo Oliveira (’96, Brazil) felt a deep affinity for gardens and orchards. In fact, at nine years old, he was already in charge of his own business: his garden.
He was born to Brazilian parents in Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay. Later he moved to Brazil, and then, when he was 19, to Costa Rica for his studies at EARTH.
“In 1993, I arrived in Costa Rica with only a one-way ticket (since I didn’t have the funds to buy a return ticket yet), and twenty dollars to spend over the next four years,” he shares, remembering the beginning of his adventure as a leader of change. “But, by the end of my first year, through working, creating gardens, selling plants and bananas, I had the chance to travel to the United States and was able to cover all my costs.”
During his years at the University, Marcelo focused on non-traditional crops, eco-tourism, the environment, ecology and landscaping. In his free time, he maintained several professors’ gardens, with experiential learning in mind; today, he values that experience above all, with his own landscaping, maintenance and ornamental plant company in Brazil.
In 1998, when he returned to his country, he also understood the challenge of starting his business from zero. “I had a diploma, good recommendations, and a strong desire to work,” he says, “and most importantly: the divine blessing.” With a bicycle and an investment, twelve years after arriving back in Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo has developed the capacity to administer both small and large landscaping projects, in the residential, industrial and environmental sectors. He shares: “That gives me a greater sense of ease – to have the luxury of be able to manage my own time, mostly with activities related to environmental protection, animals, art and education.”
Marcelo Oliveira – Soluções em Ecopaisagismo (Eco-landscaping Solutions) has more than 10 years of experience in Rio de Janeiro offering consulting in the area: environmental solutions that reduce the environmental and social impact on the planet. Marcelo’s business does so by choosing plants for clients based on their suitably for the each environment, soil and climate, growth rate and economic viability.
He also takes into account each species’ demands and the characteristics of the place where they’ll be planted, including the water, light, drainage, transplant tolerance, toxicity, risk for accidents and other factors.
“I fully believe that our mission as human beings is to join efforts, technology and knowledge, in one commitment to preserve the life on this planet for future generations’ enjoyment,” Marcelo explains
In addition to his consulting, Marcelo also prepares leaders of change, receiving school and university groups as well as individuals interested in environmental issues and landscaping. In fact, many of his employees now work independently thanks to what they’ve learned at his side.
Marcelo’s achievements don’t end there, however: more than twelve reforested acres, a botanical garden of more than 1,000 varieties, organic food production, creating composters, local flora and fauna protection, and spreading both local and exotic species of ornamental plants, flowers and tropical fruits (which he mainly discovered in Costa Rica).
His newest and perhaps most ambitious project is the transformation of 21 hectares of land into a sustainable condominium complex located 100 kilometers outside of Rio de Janeiro. The condominiums of Quentas do Funchal will contain 105 units and future residents will be carefully selected to reinforce the goal of a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. They will have access to five acres of reforested land set aside for use as a community garden, and be encouraged to raise chickens and other domestic animals. The project will launch officially in January of 2014.
His gratitude for EARTH, he says, means to him “the definition of my horizon. A limitless horizon that expands with the appreciation and love that everyone feels for its mission.”
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