Slow Food

The Water Park

- 24 Mar 03

The diffusion of genetically modified organisms is not the most serious threat to the rich patrimony of Mexican biodiversity. More importantly, Mexico is progressively losing its biological and cultural wealth, passed from generation to generation, due to lack of interest in the aboriginal agricultural techniques fundamental to Mesoamerica agriculture.

The ancient knowhow of traditional cultivation in the course of the past seven millennia has given Mexico infinite varieties of maize, beans, amaranth, zucchini, avocado, and chili peppers. These crops are at the heart of the Mexican food culture, and they are basic foods for many countries of the world. Notwithstanding the importance of these varieties, this amazing variety of seeds has been studied in a systematic way only since 1940.

In 1980, in order avert this loss of wealth (cultural and biological), the association Alternativas y Procesos de Participación Social A.C was founded. The primary activity of this association is sustainable regional development, based on the recovery of traditional agricultural techniques relevant to hydrology. This work has merited important national and international recognition: the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity (2002), and the Award for Ecological Acheivement from the Mexican Government (for the program 'Agua para Siempre', related to water distribution, and for the program 'Quali', dedicated to reviving amaranth cultivation).
In occasion of the World Day of Water (March 22), Alternativas y Procesos de Participación Social, A.C. officially announced the creation of the new Water Park. This park will become a center for biodiversity conservation and aboriginal cultures. Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, general manager of Alternativas, announced this initiative during an interview with the regional Oaxaca radio, in the presence of Serena Milano and Paolo di Croce, representatives of Slow Food.

This center, located on 20 hectares of land north of the Tehuacán highway (Oaxaca – Valle di Tehuacán – Cuicatlán), is one of the centers of the planet's biodiversity, and marks the eastern border of the Mixteca county of Oaxaca.
The Water Park was selected by Slow Food as the seat of the Mexican Presidia projects in defense of biodiversity that the movement is promoting to contribute to gastronomic culture and awareness of agroecology issues around the world. This year the Water Park will play host to the Water Museum, the first Mexican museum entirely dedicated to water, and will work to promote the cultivation of amaranth and corn in the Cuicatlán region, through the improvements in seeding techniques, and pre-Hispanic methods of irrigation – all techniques of inestimable value.