The tiny village of Tinamastes, near Dominical, recently hosted a unique festival of huge impact for our region. It was the second annual seed exchange festival, which attracted a big turnout of gardeners, farmers, families and big-name speakers from around the country to celebrate Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity of food crop seeds.
A wonderful display of seeds was arranged in the local community hall during the Sept. 3 event, as well as exhibitions by local organic growers, artisans, and organizations involved in sustainable agriculture. Live local music flowed through the festival as well as visitors who participated in the event.
Some of my young rural neighbors are taking advantage of the offers on native, heirloom seeds. Participants take a pledge to plant the seeds and return a portion of the new harvest to the seed bank to provide better local food production security. This model of cooperation in managing our seed resources is a return to our ancestors’ ways, from which these seeds come to us today. What an exquisite unbroken botanical circle, lasting centuries – if not millennia.
Eduardo Agüero, one of the co-founders of Tinamastes’ Vida Auténtica project, was on hand representing the sustainable agriculture department of the National Learning Institute (INA). High on the agenda at the festival were the issues of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and herbicides. Petitions were signed by participants at the fair to help ban the use of herbicides in public roadways and to pass legislation for consumer safety requiring food industries to label ingredients with GMO crops.
Agüero also talked about open-pollinated seeds, and why we should save these valuable seeds to protect the biodiversity of our food crops. Fabián Pacheco, also of INA, presented the legal structure of seed laws in Costa Rica, which regulates seed imports and exports. He also invited everyone to come to INA’s Festival Pura Vida in Cartago on December 3-4 (for details, call 2251-8361).
Most of the talks were in Spanish, but long-time community activist and eco-forester Jennifer Smith gave a talk in English on planting seeds of change in communities to stimulate positive regenerative actions that create healthy people and environment. Dr. Jamie Garcia of the UNED (State University at a Distance), explained how years of independent research have uncovered the negative impact of GMOs and herbicides. Amy Schrift also talked about plans to ban herbicides in the Tinamastes area, starting first along the borders of the public roads.
It’s clear that there’s a beautiful silent revolution going on here. People are becoming authentically involved in positively changing their lives and communities.
Bolivar Urena and Victor Vega came to represent their regional organic growers’ group. They explained that at the core of each member’s farm is a farmer forever: a caretaker of a bio-support system, which in return cares for the farmer and family forever. Many towns large and small across Costa Rica are beginning to organize these types of programs.
If you would like more information about Vida Auténtica or would like to volunteer, contact the organization at [email protected] or by phone at 8853-5570. Vida Auténtica also organizes a weekly organic food fair on Tuesday each week in the Tinamastes community salon. That’s halfway between Dominical and San Isidro General. It starts at 8 am and ends around noon. I hope to see you there. Look for our New Dawn medicinal herb stand.