El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter
December, 2008 - Volume III, No. 12
OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage and help build an environmental culture while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility for all.
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PARQUE LANDETA – NEW WINDS BLOWING….
It’s been 15 years since the municipal authorities granted custodianship to the Botanical Garden, through a lease agreement, to create a natural and recreational area for the benefit of the people of San Miguel in the 35 hectares that today is known as Parque Landeta. At that time the land was damaged by overgrazing, fires and wood, stone and soil extraction, as well as filled with mountains of garbage. Using the creative forces of the bordering Botanical Garden, and with the help of citizens and organizations such as Audubon, by 1994 the fledgling park had a basic operational infrastructure: fenced enclosure, entryways, roads, plazas and the first picnic facilities. That was the first year that the annual traditional celebration of La Fiesta de la Santa Cruz extended from El Charco to Parque Landeta, affirming the popular and community nature of the park.
We also started restoration programs of the park’s existing wetland and scrubland ecosystems and created an Arboretum with native species appropriate to the zone. In 2005 the park was officially declared a part of the Ecological Preservation Zone nucleus of El Charco. Today Parque Landeta is enjoyed daily by a variety of users who run, walk, observe birds, bike, walk with their dogs, or just enjoy the natural beauty.
For the Botanical Garden the custodianship and development of the park has been a long and arduous task. Most of our efforts have been directed towards the protection of the area, restoration of the natural resources, maintenance of the facilities and the surveillance necessary for visitors' security. The possibility of developing a public park, with the proper infrastructure and landscaping required, totally exceeds the resources of the Botanical Garden. To make this happen, an entirely new scenario and other participants are needed, willing and able to develop the area as a public park worthy of San Miguel. One interesting possibility is the establishment of a university campus (such as the UNAM), amicably integrated into the park, which would not only give continuity and new life to the project but also open new perspectives with educational and employment opportunities. Currently this option is under discussion and we are waiting the results.
At the moment, and as always, the park is open daily and is free (20 pesos for parking a car). Parque Landeta is a park open to all.
In November, two members of our Board were invited to visit this Botanical Garden located near Los Angeles, one of the oldest and most important in the United States, by its Director, Jim Folsom. El Charco’s Cesar Arias and Bob Haas discussed with the Huntington personnel the possibility of interchange and collaboration between the two gardens particularly in the areas of botanical collections, publications, environmental education and financing. Huntington Garden’s has an extraordinary collection of desert plants, among which are many species of cacti and succulents from Mexico, some examples having been introduced over 100 years ago. As well, the institution has an extensive library on botanicals and natural resources from which they have offered to donate a portion to El Charco’s library. The visit concluded with the promise on the part of the directors of the Huntington to visit our garden in the near future.
VOLUNTEER EXPERT IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
THE BOVEDA: A COMMUNITY SPACE
The Boveda has started to operate as a space for activities external to the Garden. During two days at the end of November the first training workshop on Protected Natural Areas and Ecological Zonification took place organized by the State Institute of Ecology with the participation of 25 civil servants from various departments of the State Government. In addition to the Boveda space, El Charco provided breakfast and lunch, overhead projector, and a guided visit of the Garden. This sort of activity represents a way of collecting funds for our environmental conservation work. For information about renting the Boveda, contact our person in charge of Public Relations, Olivia Ledon at firstname.lastname@example.org
El Charco del Ingenio invites all visitors to the Botanical Garden to taste honey, nopal and other organic products from our region on Tuesday, December 16 starting at noon at the new cafeteria. These products will be offered for sale by El Charco tienda and CEDESA (Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario), one of the first campesino organizations in Mexico to promote organic farming and eating locally.
The fruits and pads of the nopal cactus have been used as food since pre-Hispanic times. Today, campesinos cultivate this native plant in "tunnels" in order to maximize their tenderness by protecting them from extreme heat or cold. The consumption of nopal reduces cholesterol and helps regulate blood-sugar levels and thus helps control diabetes. It also reduces plaque formation in the veins and arteries, improving circulation. The naturally occurring calcium in nopal helps prevent osteoporosis, and its high content of fiber improves digestion.
Under the name of Tierra Generosa, campesino families of northern Guanajuato make and market a wide variety of nopal products, including pickles, jams, and liquors, as well as other seasonal preserves - xoconostle, guayaba, membrillo (quince) and ciruela (plum). These preparations, along with medicinal bee products, pollen and propolis, will be available. In addition, traditional Mexican treats such as frosted nuts (honey-frosted sesame seeds, ajonjolí garapiñada), sweet-and-sour noparindo and spicy-sour chamoy paste can be savored with homemade organic bread, accompanied by a variety of fragrant teas now offered by El Charco cafeteria. Visitors are also invited to browse El Charco tienda for other interesting eco-friendly gift ideas, just in time for Christmas.
ARTISTS FOR EL CHARCO
Sabrina Gaydos, a North American artist who spends some time each year in San Miguel, is making a series of watercolors inspired by the landscape and themes of our Botanical Garden with the idea of having a show in 2009. An admirer of El Charco, Sabrina has offered us her work to use. Here are some examples of her magnificent watercolors.
Tuesdays at 10:00a.m. sharp; duration 2 hours. A hat, water and good walking shoes are recommended. 50 pesos for members and 80 pesos for non-members. Private tours are also available for 150 pesos per person (minimum 5 persons). Reservations are not necessary.
YOGA in El Charco, starting January 2009.
BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION COURSES
On the weekend, we will have a local artist giving 2 classes of 4 hours each in Spanish. Alifie Rojas Candanedo is a scientific illustrator who has had individual shows throughout Mexico, has illustrated several books and worked as a scientific illustrator for laboratories and universities in Mexico. Classes limited to 5 people. For more information on both sessions, contact email@example.com
A BOOK ON EL CHARCO’S BIODIVERSITY
Text is by Walter L. Meagher and photography by Wayne Colony, Foreward by E.O. Wilson. W&W Publishings, SMA, 2008. 300 pesos. It is now available at the store at the Garden and in several other bookstores in town.
“Nature does not belong to nations.- The barn swallow seen coursing low over the presa in El Charco is the same species, russet-chested and fork-tailed, one sees skimming over the closely mown grass of a cricket pitch in England. On the other hand, each nation can be proud, and is proud, of life forms that distinguish it from all other places: the bison on the prairie and the komodo dragon on the beach. Wild and Wonderful, the book I wrote, is not a descriptive anthology of wildlife in a small patch of Mexico, but a combination of two elements: a book of ideas making use of local examples. Wayne Colony's photos bring nature alive, attracting the reader to the ideas in the essays, and leave a lasting impression of richness. Knowing is the first step towards loving El Charco. The love we feel for it, because of its beauties, its impressive views, and its variety of plants, birds and butterflies, is the precursor to the protection we deserve to give it.” (Walter L. Meagher).
You can make a difference
And you can make a difference with your contribution - volunteer or donate. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at email@example.com
“Botanical Gardens are not just places for conserving and displaying plants. At the dawn of the new millennium, they are main actors in the defense and protection of the planet’s biodiversity, with a growing focus on the regional – thinking globally and acting locally. And they are also builders of a new environmental culture for the societies that inhabit the Earth.”