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Archive for April, 2013

a skinny little guy with only one eye open and a mess of matted fur. I’m not a cat person, but how could I leave a little guy the size of my hand out in the blazing sun without his mother or other siblings anywhere to found? So he came home with me, he went to the vet, got his eye drops, got his parasite medicine, and worked his way into my heart. His name is Beignet, or Benny – a reminder that my heart will always remain in New Orleans. And yes, he is named after a food like all of my little animals. (I have a Yorkie back in the States named Milano after the cookies.)

The day I took the little critter back home with me, I promised myself it would be temporary, only until I found him a home. I am staying true to my word and after a little over a month together, Benny is headed to Almealco, Querétaro tomorrow to live on an organic ranch. Not a bad ending for this little street kitty, huh?

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: He has taken to climbing up people’s pants for a good snuggle.

PPS: Check out the street dogs of México.

The size of my hand!

Can you spot Benny helping me on laundry day?

Can you spot Benny helping me on laundry day?

Fattened him up, gordito

A few months later… Benny’s owner sent me a picture to show me how much he has grown. This looks like one happy former street kitty.

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There is only so much reading and learning about the sustainable food movement you can do before you start growing your own vegetables and begin to break reliance on others for personal nutrition. I’ve wwoofed working on organic farms in upstate New York and New Orleans, I’ve attended courses about the permaculture and biointensive farming methods, and have a mind satiated with information. But what purpose does information serve if you don’t put it to use? Now it is time for me to get my hands dirty, get some seeds germinating, and have a patch of land that I can call my own and care for.

Due to a lack of literal land, my roof in my Mexican home has always been the place I go to find some silence, and roast in the hot sun. And now, my roof will also be the place I can find some fresh arugula and comforting greenery in this desert landscape. The roof allows my veggies to receive the recommended dosage of 5 to 8 hours of sun daily, and I won’t have to travel too far to give the garden the daily care it needs. The idea to start my own rooftop garden has been taking root for the past few months, so I was constantly thinking of ways I can make it work with the available resources. After I got my worm compost started, my next goal became to germinate seeds.

Rather than buying anything, I looked for things around the house to reuse as small planting boxes. I began to set aside plastic cookie trays and take-out containers, milk cartons, and even toilet paper rolls. I also began to collect organic seeds, harvested from the local environment from women in the communities and local Mexican organizations dedicated to the sustainable food movement, such as CIASPE and na ya’ax. Because these seeds are local, they have evolved to be better adapted to the environment here in Querétaro. One of the many benefits to seed diversity.

In addition to the start of becoming autonomous in my alimentation, I am also beginning my march in the Organic Food Revolution. A Revolution dedicated to helping rejuvenate the land we have stripped, and empowering people once again to grow their own food and having the right to a healthy, chemical-free diet. A Revolution that I can support and truly believe in.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: The rooftop garden will enable me to serve as an example and share the information you only find by doing. I’m working with community members of Huimilpan to start their own gardens, grow their own food, eat healthier, and save money in the process.

PPS: Happy Earth Day!

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Rooftop Garden

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My first three months in Mexico were spent in the city of Querétaro with my fellow environmental Peace Corps volunteers. This environmental group of 22 people is split between two programs, natural resources management and environmental education. I, myself, am a part of the latter program of environmental education and so my training was dedicated to the three main topics of eco-technologies, the formation of eco-clubs, and climate change education.

We spent these three months in the Peace Corps classroom prepping ourselves as best as we could for the next two years; we went on field-trips to check out working eco-technologies, we heard eco-club success stories and failures, we even hosted our very own eco-fair. Even with this experience and knowledge under our belt, one of our beloved trainers would cautiously remind us “the plan usually doesn’t survive the battlefield.” Naively, once we made it out of training, a period of many wrongly conjugated Spanish verbs, we were eager to hit the ground running. Eager to get projects going with community members, eager to start our service as Peace Corps volunteers.

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Projects just do not magically start right away, however. No, in truth, the first three months in site are dedicated to the Peace Corps volunteers conducting community diagnostics to learn about the needs and priorities of the communities in which they work. For example, when I first arrived in my site of Huimilpan I noticed that although many women in the communities had great eco-technologies, they were not all functioning at the optimal level of performance. With this knowledge, the priority became focused on first fixing these eco-technologies before moving on to additional projects.

To remediate this, I developed a survey with the help of one of my counterparts and began to interview the women of three different communities in order to gauge the functionality of the eco-technologies. The survey included such questions as,

What are some of the principal problems in your garden?

What do you put in your worm compost?

Of the following choices (bio-filter, water cistern, and greenhouse), what eco-technology is most important for you to have in the future?

This survey is one of the many methods I used in learning more about Huimilpan, the communities, and their needs. After three months of much research and talking with just about anyone willing to talk, I came to the conclusion that I am super busy, super excited, and see a lot of potential for change here in Huimilpan.  After 7 months in Mexico my projects are beginning to come together, and I couldn’t be more excited. Check back these next few days to learn just what they are.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: I found a baby, baby kitten all alone on the street yesterday and brought him home. I’m not even a cat person…

Interviewing Community Members

 

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