Organic Gardening In La Paz

Here’s a way to learn
BY: PAIGE TURNER

La Paz gets an average of six to seven inches (152-178 mm) of rainfall each year—not the place where you would expect to find flourishing community gardens. However, the Raíz de Fondo gardens in La Paz serve a greater purpose than simply growing a few tomatoes or tending to the bougainvillea. This non-profit community organization strives to educate people on the benefits of organic growing, sustainable gardening, and healthy eating.

Raíz de Fondo has three community gardens in La Paz: Sabores de la Tierra Garden, Guamuchil Garden, and the central office at Legaspy Garden. The gardens serve as a meeting place to educate anyone on the benefits of gardening. The organization offers several different workshops, cooking classes, and invites local schools to partake in educational field trips. Raíz de Fondo. Workshops provide beginners’ training on how to grow organic plants and vegetables for a family garden. The workshop is a 10-12 hour course, which can be smashed into two days or be spread out over six weeks. Although the courses are mostly conducted in Spanish, there is usually someone on staff who is bilingual and can help any expats wanting to learn, and in late autumn, an English course is available. One weekend each year, this organic training course is adapted for local educators who might be interested in creating school gardens. For those who already have gardens, a weekly workshop, or Coffee Hour, is held.

On Saturday mornings, during growing season, the Coffee Hour takes place at the different gardens. Informative talks, based on various themes, help gardeners with any questions. Generally, the talks are in Spanish, but like the workshops, helpful staff who speak English will help with questions. The coffee is provided, but the gardens asks that you bring your own mug. The workshops and Coffee Hour show how to grow and tend to plants, but to fully benefit from the gardening experience, the organization then looks to the best uses of the harvest.

Cooking classes emphasize healthy eating and the benefits of a home garden.  Once a month, during growing season, free classes (a suggested donation of 100 pesos) are held at the Guamuchil Garden, located at the Colegio Militar on Ramírez and Altamirano streets. The main emphasis: Eat your vegetables! The classes are fun and highlight international dishes. The cooking classes show one of the most useful aspects of gardening: using what you grow. The process of growing and then using what you grow in the kitchen is something that Raíz de Fondo hopes to show students in schools around the city.

Sabores de la Tierra Garden and Guamuchil Garden allow school visits for preschoolers through the university level. Visits are changed based on the learning level. Students learn where the food they eat comes from in an interactive setting. At the end of the field trips, each student is given a seedling they can bring home to plant for an ongoing education.

Raíz de Fondo is in partnership with the International Community Foundation (ICF), a non-profit that works with programs in Northwest Mexico. If you’re unable to attend a workshop or volunteer, donations are accepted directly to the organization or through ICF.

The heat of the summer is still upon us, but if gardening, food, or general sustainability interests you, then Raíz de Fondo might be your ticket in the coming season. For more information on the community gardens in La Paz you can visit their website at http://www.raizdefondo.org. There, you can find information about workshops, cooking classes, and how to volunteer.