San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato, México



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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

July, 2007 - Volume 2, No. 7

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility. Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.


To celebrate the World Day of the Environment, the botanical garden organized tree planting events with the participation of children from PEASMA (Programa de Educación Ambiental de San Miguel de Allende and FAI (Save the Children) in Parque Landeta, an ecological and recreational space next to the botanical garden. Native species such as mesquite, junipers and pine were planted and fortunately we have had rain these days.  Some more trees for San Miguel!


Tibetan Monks in El Charco

With a large attendance of Mexicans and foreigners, the Tibetan Monks held a beautiful ecumenical ceremony in the Plaza of the Four Winds in the garden, with representatives of various faiths and the solemn welcome of the stewards of the Santa Cruz of Charco del Ingenio in the Peace Zone of the garden, who gave the right of speech to the monks to hold their ceremony.


The diverse species of lichen on the large rocks at the edge of the canyon show off their colours of green, ochre, orange and black.  We find them on tree trunks and branches of plants and even on the ground. 

To learn more about these enigmatic and subtle species, we had the visit in May of a team of botanists headed by Dr. Thomas Nash of the State University of Arizona who is a world renowned authority on lichen.  Dr. Nash and his team found 50 species of lichen, some not previously registered.  In some of the ravines of the Picacho mountains, they discovered 70 species. 

Something more from nature to learn about
… and preserve.




Inventory of Spontaneous Flora in El Charco del Ingenio, by Walter L. Meagher, published in Spanish, edited by el Instituto de Ecología AC, de Pátzcuaro Michoacán,  as part of a series entitled “Flora del Bajío y Regiones Adyacente” (Flora of the Bajio and Adjacent Regions).  This scientific study brings up to date a previous investigation in 1994 by the same author.  In the last thirteen years there has been a large growth in the diversity of plants and a notable increase in the number of species growing spontaneously in the nature reserve:  a total of 535 species belonging to 85 botanical families (200 species more than registered in 1994). This astonishing change shows the recuperative powers of the ecosystems when simple but effective methods are applied to protect the environment. The book is on sale at the reception area of the garden and also in the bookstore on Recreo #4 for 50 pesos.



This year we are putting a lot of effort and resources into improving the paths and trails and plazas in the botanical garden especially in the areas that have the greatest influx of visitors.  Due to erosion and the effect of thousands of people walking on the trails, this work is truly necessary. 

A small group of Charco workers are in charge of this trail maintenance and have given the trails a style which can be seen in how the stones are placed and the plants and vegetation pruned.  The results are recognizable!

JULY 8TH from noon on, free entrance

Since it’s beginnings in 1991, this celebration is held every year in July to commemorate the foundation of the garden as well the rescue of this magnificent ravine – a rescue that not only consecrates El Charco as an ecological reserve but also as a ritual space for the local indigenous communities of San Miguel, and the image of the Cross which goes back to the wars of Conquest of the 16th century and the foundation of our city. As such, Charco del Ingenio is a sacred territory for the communities of the Santa Cruz, urban as well as rural, who come to the annual festival. 

plaza   fiesta

The ceremony starts in the Plaza of the Four Winds and the cross is carried to the four cardinal points of the botanical garden where the protective shrines are located.  It finishes with the installation of the cross in Parque Landeta where the fiesta continues all day with ritual dances, music and more. This year the route will be extended to the four cardinal points of Parque Landeta with the idea of consecrating all of its territory as an ecological reserve for the city and a ritual space for the Santa Cruz communities.


This summer camp started in 2006 offering children an educational opportunity and the tools to better explore and understand the environment in which they live. The founders, Rita DeBrito and Alicia Rivero Wilson, both professional teachers from New York City,  decided to start this camp to continue their practice and passion for working with science and children.  Starting with their natural curiosity, the campers explore nature around them, observing and identifying animals in their natural habitats and they learn how the adaptation and conduct of these animals is an integral part of the environment.  This year the entire summer camp program will be held at Charco del Ingenio which will allow the young participants to carry out their work as biologists, geologists, entomologists, etc. Children from 8-12 years old will spend their days exploring the 3 ecological zones of El Charco studying and documenting the various flora and fauna of each zone. They will be based in the old hacienda on the north side of El Charco and will continue investigations in the library where they will have computers, microscopes, books, and videos.


science camp

Science Camp will take place for 4 weeks this summer starting Monday, July 9th and going through to Friday, August 3rd.  Enrollment is for 16 children each week.  Hours are 9 to 3 Monday through Friday with snacks and lunch included. 

For more information, you can visit the website at www.sciencecampsanmiguel.com or contact Rita and Alicia directly at sciencecampsma@gmail.com



Edible Cacti: July 20th, 9:30a.m., Botanical Garden

Come and learn all about nopales from our special guest presenter and sample some nopal salad. Victoria Challancin, owner of Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School, has lived in the Middle East, Europe, and Mexico, giving her a broad base for her food knowledge. During her 19 years in San Miguel Victoria has given Mexican cooking classes, some of which have been featured on the Fine Living Channel. Victoria has a passion for food anthropology and ethnobotany.  As a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, she has studied with world-class chefs and teachers. Mario Mendoza, Assistant Director of El Charco, will also tell us about other edible plants, some of which we can see in the garden.

The presentation (and food sampling) will be under the boveda at the Plaza of the Four Winds so you may want to bring a cushion.  Cost for members of the garden is 70 pesos, non-members 100 pesos.  Reservations can be made by contacting Naomi at nzerriffi@yahoo.com

Saturday, June 30th at sunset



We invite everyone to this open celebration that has been taking place for many years during the full moon cycle at the Four Winds Plaza in the Botanical Garden. This month it will take place on June 30.  

It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. We recommend bringing a coat and a musical instrument if you wish. Admission is 30pesos, free for members

Friday, June 29th at 8p.m.
and Sunday, July 1st at 10a.m.

This relaxing steam bath is a ritual of healing and purification and is available every month for both men and women. Bring bathing suits and towels. It takes place in the ruins of an old hacienda, under the moonlight, across the dam from El Charco’s reception area.

The mixture of heat, humidity and scented plants and herbs is a purifying experience for mind and spirit. Its benefits are many; as it activates blood circulation, increases natural body defenses, eliminates odors, relaxes muscles, helps keep the nervous system in good shape, stimulates breathing and is excellent for weight loss. 250 pesos, space is limited so please call for reservations or information 154 88 38, 154 4715, cell 01 443 10 3 3019 or in El Charco’s main office.


temazcal exterior

temazcal interior


Jesse Bert is assisting in the Reception and two people from France are also helping out as needed.  Many thanks.


Sign-in Book:  In March we initiated this request to members to sign in at Reception with your name, date and number of people in your group.  This information, as well as the guest sign-in book, help us improve our services to our members and visitors. Thank you for your cooperation.

Membership Renewal:  When renewing your membership at Border Crossings or at the Reception area, please ask for a renewal form. This helps us maintain current lists with proper email addresses, etc.  We want to remind you of the new option of having a membership for more than one year.

User Survey:  This brief and simple form is available at Reception in both English and Spanish and we ask our visitors and members to fill one out please. We are interested in knowing who, when and why people visit El Charco so we can offer better services, improve our programs, etc.   This is also an opportunity to give us your comments and suggestions.

You can make a difference

And you can make a difference with your donations. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at nzerriffi@yahoo.com

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at charcodelingenio@gmail.com