From the 3rd to the 15th of March 2019, 30 people gathered from across the world at the Via Organica ranch on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They all shared a common purpose: to support the restoration of the degraded ecosystems surrounding the ranch through practical hands on learning.
Via Organica is a regenerative ranch established by the Organic Consumers Association and Regeneration International. 30 people from the local area run this ___ hectare ranch that grows beautiful fruit and vegetables using regenerative practices. These are then sold, along with other local, high quality products, in a shop and restaurant in the local town. This place is a shining example of how food and a thriving local economy can be grown whilst restoring degraded land at the same time. This is a perfect location for an ecosystem restoration camp, as it has the facilities and the staff present to be able to properly look after people coming to help with ecosystem restoration.
Pioneer species plantings
Water harvesting structures
Insect traps to measure biodiversity
Soil water holding capacity tests
Each of these activities was led by a Mexican member of staff from the Via Organica ranch, where they are regularly implementing these practices.
Campers stayed in beautiful adobe cabins and shared meals together made from ingredients grown in the Via Organica gardens. Weekends were spent at the local hot springs and in the local city.
What was beautiful about this experience was that it was attended by many campers who have their own land that they are either already regenerating or wish to regenerate. This meant that the techniques learned at the camp will be directly re-implemented within other parts of Mexico and at different sites around the world.
This camp, our second after the camp in Murcia, Spain, followed a different model and approach. Rather than having campers all year round, this camp took place for two weeks as an intensive hands on learning experience in ecosystem restoration. The idea is to have these camps multiple times a year. The rationale for this new approach is that it is much quicker, cheaper and easier to create camps with partners who are already working in regeneration. Via Organica, for example, have all of the infrastructure needed to host and look after campers, who can get to work straight away on restoring degraded land. This is the model that Ecosystem Restoration Camps will be following in the future, to ensure that as many camps can be built as quickly as possible.
The next camp dates are yet to be decided, but are likely to be in October 2019. If you would like to join the next camp in Mexico, you can email Rose@organicconsumers.org.
The ecosystem restoration techniques used at the camp are currently being compiled into infographic step by step guides that will then be available for download as a gift to our members. If you would like to receive them and just generally support the creation of more ecosystem restoration camps around the world, you can do so here.