Mexico has an incredibly diverse range of terrains, cuisines and traditions. The region of Guanajuato is a leader in sustainable agriculture, and when we visit we take a recorrido around the grounds of Vía Orgánica to learn about the native and adaptive species growing all around the farm that in turn feed and educate the local community. Co-founder Rosana Álvarez shows us the roots and vision of this incredible organization.
Tell us about how Via Orgánica started.
It all started in 2009 when we found ourselves thinking about our ancestor’s traditions and culture. It made us realize we had to contribute with an educational system that puts health, the environment and the local economy as a priority because they are most important aspects in life.
With the significant support of the Organic Consumers Association, we were able to create the Via Orgánica Project in San Miguel de Allende. I was invited to be part of this project and I didn’t think it twice especially because I had seen the negative influence big grocery markets had on smaller, more local markets. Farmers have also been negatively affected due to the changes in the Mexican way of eating, how produce is processed, and the use of more pesticide and chemicals.
It has taken a lot of courage to speak out in my community and be part of thread of suppliers, producers and consumers that are aware of the changes that needs to be made. Among more than 700 family producers, there has been a conscious change for good.
Tell us about what makes Via Orgánica unique in your community.
Via Orgánica is one of a kind because we teach people about healthy nutrition, taking care of the environment and an economical ecosystem. We also have a radio segment that reaches the communities where we are able to spread our values and mission to those individuals that want to learn how to take care and produce high quality products on in their land.
Via Orgánica is special because we are in touch with various projects that follow the same mindset and industry. We have also influenced other projects and the community in general to start applying sustainable agricultural methods.
How has Via Orgánica made a difference in San Miguel de Allende?
The impact has been great so far. Awareness has increased and many small shops as well as restaurants have opened and are providing cleaner foods. So far, Via Orgánica is the only organization applying the system through both sales and education.
Via Orgánica has also opened up increased opportunities for people living in rural areas, and urban residents are exploring the culture, customs and beauty of nature in the countryside. It is all thanks to our farmers that take care of the environment for us.
Talk to us about the Via Orgánica team.
We have been generating jobs for the past 10 years. There are now 75 stable employees who are mostly situated in marginalized and rural areas. They have taken courses and classes in high school and university. Most classes are free of charge. Many jobs are catered specifically to employees who want to recover the love for their land and decide to own it again.
During the summer we invite youth from rural areas to come learn how to plant certain foods so they reconnect with the land and care about it again. The activities consist of learning about the essence and the origins of the foods and farming without pesticides.
We also teach about seed saving and conservation. We have reforestation programs with native plants such as agaves and mesquite to recover the land and preserve water.
What more does Via Orgánica hope to accomplish in the coming years?
We would like to form farmer networks that still own land and help them produce higher quality products. We also want to show the world that even the unhealthiest piece of land has the chance to recover through good practices.
We want to reforest, continue educating and make the movement grow and expand by combining our local and international strengths and efforts through Via Orgánica’s youth camps.
Please tell us anything else you’d like to share.
We all have to change some habits that are negatively affecting the planet and the people. We can do this by being aware of what we consume. We have faith that there will always be positive changes, and we won’t stop working hard thanks to the support of all individuals who want to make this world a better place. We want to thank all our fellow coworkers that have helped with this beautiful cause. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Rosana Alvarez was born in San Miguel de Allende in a family of 12. She has a wonderful husband and beautiful 18 year old daughter. She is self-taught in areas of social environments, the circular economy and social change.