As you drive to La Zapotera from Poncitlan, you travel through prepared and plowed fields, seeded and ready, awaitng our annual rains. Dairy cows polka dot the landscape. And as you crest the ridge overlooking Lake Chapala, your breathe is taken away by the sheer beauty and majesty of the landscape and vista.
Harvey Bernier and I had arrived at La Zapotera to see the progress at the community center building that the community is renovating. Today's homework was to review with Project Manager Gerardo the kitchen plan and see how the plumbing investigation was progressing.
We had a basic idea of what the community kitchen was to be, and wanted to run the plan by the women and men of La Zapotera, to gather their responses. We were give a "two thumbs up" from them to proceed with the planned work.
As always, a good guest brings gifts. And Harvey is the best guest ever! He always brings food and drink and usually a slew of tomatoes as gifts for the community members.
Peanut butter and jelly duty
Everyone lines up and waits patiently for their sandwiches. It is a lovely thing to behold.
Then it was up to the roof to see where the slow sand filtration system will reside, as well as the organic rooftop food gardens, the medicinal plants gardens, the gas tank placement and the 'al fresco' dining area.
My partner Brad had asked about the water filtration system. I asked Don Antonio, who oversees the works, to explain. He said the spigots use a water filter that allows for potable water to be taken from the spigot to a 20 liter water bottle for $5 pesos a bottle.
Certain townsfolk are assigned water duty certain days of the week. Potable, drinking water is available to the entire town.
As we worked through the morning word got out that Harvey was in town. Harvey is somewhat of a local celebrity in La Zapotera. Children materialized at the community center door. The volunteers arrived. Naturally we all met at the community center to discuss the evolution of the duties required for the project.
200 children will be fed at the community center kitchen. We will have to accomodate 60 children per day, along with 20 people of the third age and 20 adults per day, for a total of 100 people a day being fed.
Discussion was had as to who will run the kitchen, who will clean, who will stock the pantry, how will we shop locally for our food and materials, why is it important to shop and source locally...all these were addressed.
Then it was time for me to bring out the most amazing gift for the women of La Zapotera's farmacia. I had been asked to give a presentation at the Lake Chapala Garden Club's monthly meeting in March 2018 re: the garden projects in the east of Mezcala region. One of the attendees was Chris Lindner from Ontario, Canada. Chris went back to Canada and remembered the women of La Zapotera's farmacia needed dark glass bottles to store their tinctures/remedies. The women of La Zapotera had stored their remedies in old jam jars, old Coke bottles, anything they could get their hands on. Chris Lindner remembered my asking for dark glass bottles and sent a "Care Package" of beautiful dark, glass bottles and an amazing array of heirloom seeds for the project.
Fco. gives Dona Olivia apothecary bottles
Fco. gives Dona Olivia heirloom seeds
Dona Olivia. one of the farmacia group, accepted the gifts. They were overjoyed to have a wonderful set of bottles to use for their remedies, as well as accept the seeds for their gardens.
Don Antonio and Raul at our community meeting.
Raul and Harvey listen intently.
The projects at La Zapotera are community run and volunteer based and staffed. We rely on the townspeople to attend meetings, distribute the workload and do the work. I am pleased to say that the majority of the workers are women from the town who want to improve their lot and make a difference in their communities.
Poco A Poco, we all make a difference.
A special "shout out" goes to Chris Lindner for the lovely apothecary bottles and heirloom seeds, to Wendy Wilton for liasioning, to the Lake Chapala Garden Club for facilitating this encounter, and to all the people who support our programs to help make our communities better.
We could not do what we do without you!