Let’s Go To The Botanical Garden

Beat ya to the car!
BY: AMANDA BRUNO

Last Saturday, I packed up my camera and my beach bag, and headed up highway 1 to check out the Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden. Having read about it online, I was excited to get away from the noise of Los Cabos and spend some time with nature, and to report back on the experience to the dedicated readers of the Gringo Gazette. As my luck would have it, though, the Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden is not open all the time for visitors to peruse at their leisure, and I never actually got to immerse myself in Mother Nature. But fear not! I'm sure that the garden is a wonder to behold, and with some careful planning, it offers a great escape and a change of pace for Cabo vacationers and residents alike. So let’s learn from my mistake, shall we?

Founded in 1998 by renowned botanist Gabriel Howearth, the Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden is nestled in the small fishing town of La Ribera, about an hour and a half north of San Jose. It is almost directly across from the La Ribera welcome sign (you’ll see this as soon as you get to town), and down the street from Oxxo. It bills itself as a living genealogy seed bank and training center that works toward the preservation of botanical diversity.

The main emphasis of the Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden is on permaculture. Depending on whom you ask, permaculture can mean many different things. For the purposes of the Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden, though, it simply refers to a system of symbiotic relationships that allow the garden to sustain itself for generations to come. Everything grown there is done so organically, without the use of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Growers use techniques such as crop rotation, composting, and the use of cover crops. Organic agriculture makes it possible to maintain the health and natural structure of the soil.

The Garden is maintained through a variety of techniques, including organic agriculture, agro-forestry, and bio-construction. It also boasts an impressive education and charity program, working with nearby schools and community organizations to teach about sustainability and to supply seeds to community members. Their permaculture practices include composting, mulching, beekeeping, and seed production, and they integrate those practices into the community through permaculture design courses, school gardens, community gardens, home gardens, and edible landscape design.

Today Kitzia Kokopelmana, a local artist, earth-lover, and botanist, among other things, maintains the garden. To visit Buena Fortuna, you must contact Kitzia directly via email (kitziakokopelmana@gmail.com) and schedule a tour. According to their website (buenafortunapermaculture.wordpress.com), Kitzia hosts a brunch every Friday and Saturday morning at 10:00 from December to May. During brunch, visitors will tour the garden, learn about the various plants, and enjoy a freshly cooked organic meal.

In addition to weekly tours, Buena Fortuna hosts a variety of workshops, including how to prepare your own compost, creating and maintaining a school garden, how to grow food in your home garden, and several other topics. Their website states they can organize workshops on demand as well, which would be a great option for groups here for only a short while.

My suggestion is to make a day of it. Have brunch in the morning at Buena Fortuna, and then head to the La Ribera beach in the afternoon. The town is on the Sea of Cortez and has plenty of swimmable, nearly deserted ocean front. If you’re looking for something more picturesque, head 20 minutes up the coast to the twin towns of Buena Vista and Los Barriles for a quiet, beautiful beach day, away from the tourist-heavy beaches in Los Cabos and La Paz, but still in civilization. Or, head back south to the serene beaches of Baja’s East Cape. There’s no wrong option—we’re in Mexico, after all. Just don’t do what I did, and be sure to invest the proper time to plan for Mexican hours. We gave you the email and website. Use it.