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Archive for May, 2013

I finally found the happy medium for my worm compost with just a few minor adjustments:

Juice. I put the container on a slope, which was easily achieved with some concrete bricks that were around the house. Now the slope is directing all of the valuable worm juice right into the bowl. I can easily add this juice to the watering can, and give my veggies an extra boost of nutrients.

Shade. Next, I covered the box in order to water the compost less frequently. Also, I put some leaves on top of the compost to help maintain humidity, just like in nature.

Flies. In order to keep away the flies, I  add a bit of soil on top of recently added food scraps.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out the failures of worm compost that brought me here: Worm Compost: Part I, Part II, Part III.

PS: The second photo is from a Rancho Acuario. The new home of Benny, the kitty, and also a home to many great eco-technologies and organic veggies.

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The idea is to add food in sections so the worms follow the food through the maze. Once they make it to the end, you have your rich humus.

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No two houses are the same. There are those built mainly out of cinderblock and concrete, fortresses in the midst of the campo. There are those made with the beautiful natural stones that are also used to establish the winding fences to contain their roaming cows. There are those that sprawl, growing as the years come and go, growing with the family, growing with money availability. There are those built in the picturesque US style, spurting up in Mexico upon migrants’ return to their hometown. One thing is a constant, however, in these homes, you will always find a kitchen with a fresh stack of warm tortillas and  some chickens roaming on the property, picking at some corn kernels.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out how to build a cob house, a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to home construction.

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I am working with a nonprofit in Mexico that is joined with the Mexican government, and then joined with the DIF of Huimilpan. Complicated for me to understand, I can imagine how you feel. Anyway we are working on a 10-month project to implement 160 family gardens in the communities of Huimilpan. In order to kick start this whole project, the organization, na ya’ax, held a training/application weekend, during which, a group of 50 of us learned about biointensive gardening, composting, and the social impacts of this type of work. Everyday, we completed a test in order for the organization to weed out potential applicants in search of the elected trainers for each municipality.

With all that out of the way, now we are in the process of getting out to the communities, explaining the benefits of the family garden, and signing up interested campesinos. Presenting the idea and the project to community members is admittedly a challenge. However my passion and faith in people regaining ownership and the right to produce their own food is my driving force. You see, in these smaller towns, they only have access to the small “corner store.” And what is in these corner stores? Of course all types of soft drinks, potato chips, cookies – everything that has expiration dates at least 5 years into the future. Much like the food deserts of the US.

No, there are not any fresh veggies. In order to get vegetables, the women have to walk into Huimilpan, the municipality’s center, take a taxi, or their own car if they have one. Unfortunately, you can’t stock up on veggies, they spoil. So these communities, most of which have moderate or high levels of marginalization, don’t view many benefits in buying vegetables. They view it as a waste of time, a waste of money. From their perspectives, I’d agree, but there is hope in this initiative. The motive of this project is to make the vegetables accessible to the community members. So accessible, that they would only need to step out to their patio for some fresh cilantro and tomatoes right off the vine to make their salsa.

Each house would have their own vegetable beds, with compost to provide the nutrient-rich soil for these beds. The community members will receive free training, and free seeds to get them started. The community members will be encouraged to look around for available resources in order to start the garden. There will be not be any input costs other than open-mindedness, creativity, and getting their hands dirty. At the end of the day, they will have an array of fresh, organic vegetables, grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and black water.

If only it was that easy. There are many factors that can affect the success of this project. Such factors as serious as a lack of water to water the gardens, a lack of the green materials needed to start compost (hopefully the approaching rainy season can help with this), and most importantly, a lack of morale and buy-in. The Mexican government itself will admit that it has played a role in making the people accustomed to putting their hands out, waiting for help, waiting for money. For example, the DIF is also starting a program, Bécate,  in which the people will receive training for free on such topics as carpentry and baking. Great deal, huh, free classes? It gets better, they people get paid to attend the classes.

So when I come along and say, “we are going to start family gardens!” The first question I am asked is, “Well, what do we get out of it?” My response of training, seeds, knowledge, empowerment and fresh vegetables usually doesn’t elicit an enthused reaction. Some people will flat out just leave the meeting upon hearing that news. But those who remain, yes those who remain until the very end, signing their names on the attendance sheet, asking me questions, yes those are the hope. Those are the ones who will begin to change their fellow community members’ opinions about the benefits of the family garden, those are the ones who will feed their children a snack of celery rather than papas fritas. Those are the ones that I will be holding onto.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out my rant about nutrition in Mexico.

The Start of Compost in Capula. We asked a local flower shop for the scraps they didn't want in order to provide the needed "green material."

The Start of Compost in Capula. We asked a local flower shop for the scraps they didn’t want in order to provide the needed “green material.”

A Sunset Caught on the Way Back from a Meeting in a Community

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Spring is finally here in Mexico and the flowers are out and beautiful. 

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: I’m still waiting for the rain to come…

PPS: More photos of a desert in bloom here

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