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FRIDAY – Peace Gardens

a new project in Ocotepec

You thought the week was over, didn’t you? But it’s not, there’s always fun on FRIDAY! To change things up a little bit, (sorry lettuce, I will always love you), we visited a new project called Huertos por la Paz (Peace Gardens). HpP is a community project that started up about 6 months ago in the small town of Ocotepec, a town famous for its Day of the Dead celebrations (which I’ve written about before, check blog). Huertos por la Paz (Peace Gardens) was started by a group of neighbors, Mexicans and foreigners, in response to the recent rise in violence that has been plaguing parts of Mexico.

The soil at HpP had been damaged, so we worked to create a compost that gardeners would use to rebuild nutrients. We made a sort of mud pie tiramisu, with at least 5 or 6 layers of several ingredients. To make the compost we used soil, rock flour/dust, water, rice husks, a sugary extract, yeast, and bio-char (a more environmentally friendly charcoal that I will talk about later). We spent about 4 hours piling laying on top of layer, and then another hour mixing up the layers so that the yeast would kick in and start heating things up. It made all of our hard labor from the days before look like grandma’s work. My white (*stupid, Cindy) shirt was wet and streaked with dirt. Our HOY volunteers white (*also, not smart) shoes were now a sick looking brown.

To make the bio-char, HpP gardener Vincent showed us a technique he perfected by watching YouTube videos. Seriously- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMUmby8PpU (check out minute 4:00 to see what it looked like). It is a clean process of making charcoal, with less smoke and less waste. Plus it only took 20 minutes and wa-lah, ready to barbeque. It would be really cool if eventually gardeners and land-workers around the world could start to use this technique. So much pollution is caused from burning organic waste and trash that this method could really make a difference in air quality (and soil quality!).

This project was our HOY volunteer’s favorite, because all of the gardeners spoke English and she was able to ask lots of questions without needing me as a translator. It was lots of physical work as well, but always something different so it wasn’t repetitive. The idea of a community garden was really at work: several neighbors stopped by to chat, and they explained how several other neighbors have even started their own little gardens. Huertos por la Paz also does meals every once in awhile to raise funds. I’ve already signed up myself and Casa HOY. I will do anything for food. Seriously.

Come back next week to follow our 2-week volunteer trip with HOY volunteers from Canada. Saludos!

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Posted by UnMejorHOY 23.03.2012 09:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged parties travel mexico de reyes international traditions community cultural volunteer casa voluntourism casa_hoy participatory rosca

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