Here is our wish list, in case you would like to contribute.
Introduction Fco. Nava and Barb Reinhart, Volunteers
Vivero La Esperanza
Our vision is to have a nursery where we can grow from seed, organic plants to feed our communities, grow enough plants to have a surplus to sell for a profit to cover the working costs of the nursery, to have a place where we can hold gardening classes, a place where volunteers can come to work, learn, help and a place to hold reunions and meetings….a learning garden.
In July of 2017 I started working with Poco A Poco, a grass roots – direct connect organization that was taking donations from the Ajijic area to the towns of SPI. Because of the need in these towns, Poco A Poco was growing quickly and thinking of developing several programs to address the needs of the SPI communities.
The townspeople were becoming ill, local community members (mostly youth) were dying of renal failure. We began asking why and came up with several possible causes: heavy metal laden water, poverty induced malnutrition, lack of proper hygiene and lack of education. There is also a theory of genetic marker possible cause.
Working with Todd Stong, Havey Bernier and Pastor Guillermo P. Banuet of the Presbyterian Church Del Lago we started working on the water problem.
I decided to tackle the malnutrition problem by installing 4 model home gardens in the homes of 4 Brigadistas in SPI. One was a larger plot of land, one a container garden, one a smaller farm like parcel and one next door to our Brigadista office. These 4 gardens grew and grew, the families tending to them learning as we went. In the end, the 4 model home gardens provided food for the families. As word of these gardens grew, so did the demand for more home gardens. We received a flood of request for home gardens. The problem was where will the plants and materials, the volunteers and resources come from for these new home gardens?
This was when the ideal of a nursery/vivero that could grow plant seedlings from seed was born….a learning garden where the local people could come help in the development and maintenance of their community garden….a place for reunions…a place to dig your hands into the soil and see beautiful things happen.
In October of 2018 we were offered a plot of empty land in the town of San Juan Tecomatlan de Los Chiles Verdes, just east of San Nicolas. With the help of the Brigada’s attorney, were able to negotiate a letter of agreement/ term for use of the land for a Vivero for 3 years. In January of 2019 we broke ground…later to find out that the plot had been used originally as a dump for local landfill materials. So our initial idea of digging up the soil was abandoned and topsoil used.
Starting from scratch is not new to me. We’d tried this once before and were partially successful. Here we were again with less than ideal land, but with a town filled with Brigadistas ready to work. And work they did, moving large pieces of concrete block, clearing the plot of years of dead plant growth, digging into hard, dry highly clay soil.
Another challenge was that the plot of land had neither access to electricity nor a clear water source. We work during daylight hours, doing everything manually. We did discover that an abandoned, covered up well was on the property and once used. We uncovered the well to find water, which we have been using as an emergency water source. The townspeople started to allow us to use their water to fill our barrels. Since water is scarce in these towns, this was an amazing gesture.
People were helping, local children showing up to assist and play in the garden. Friends were donating ornamentals from their gardens and we were now able to pot and sell some of our plants.
The need for food is still great. Our initial attempts at having the Brigadistas start and take care of our seedlings is not panning out as I would have liked. These are young people (10 to 18 years old) who have school, family, work commitments, are teenagers mostly. Their care of the seedlings is inconsistent. We’re trying to find a better way.
The seed for the Vivero has been planted. We are seeing growth in the ground as well as the community. But we still need help.
How Can You Help?
Donations We need the following for our Vivero:
raised bed planters
a tall ladder and a short ladder
Presently what we need most are seed plant starters. If you are someone who likes to start plants from seed, we would welcome donations of seedling for the following, most requested plants:
o Chiles (all kinds)
o Swiss Chard
o Red Peppers
Ø Cash donations to cover the cost of a new tool shed.
o Shelving for housing seeds (seed bank), books etc.
o Visual books on plants, flowers, recycling, container
gardening, mother earth.
o Pots - terra cotta, Talavera that we could plant for sales.
o Paint for painting plastic pots to look fancier, for sale.