In the tropical setting of Costa Rica’s Santa Bárbara, more than 50 people from the city’s surrounding villages gathered on Terra Madre Day to learn how to build a solar cooker. An insulated device that harnesses the energy of sunlight to cook food, the stove is of particular interest in a time when energy consumption issues are of peak concern and people are keen to reduce their greenhouse emissions as well as the use of wood from local forests, and free themselves from economic dependency on mainstream energy sources.
The event was hosted by women from the Sol de Vida (Sun of Life) organization, a Terra Madre community that promotes organic agriculture, the protection of local seeds, traditional cultivation techniques, and the use of solar power in cooking. The organization was founded in 1989, and today has grown to involve hundreds of growers and consumers from 15 communities in the province of Guanacaste.
Participants also took part in agro-ecology workshops, learning practical food growing skills such as how to make natural fertilizers or start a home nursery. A seed exchange was also initiated on the day, and Sol de Vida introduced its new seed sanctuary project which will be officially launched in January. “The collection of seeds on display included an enormous range native corn, beans and fruit seeds, whose array of colors reflect the amazing biodiversity of our region,” said Fatima Montealegre, the Sol de Vida Terra Madre food community coordinator.
And in the true spirit of Terra Madre Day, the event finished with a shared “solar banquet” and music. Using the solar cookers, soups, tortillas, cakes and desserts were prepared from the native Ojoche nut, as well as other dishes made from corn, beans, manioc and curcuma.
“Through a fun and educational day, we promoted these sustainable practices among people in our region,” said Montealegre. “We want them to learn these skills and take them home with them, reminding them that every day can be Terra Madre Day.”
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