A cross-cultural cross pollination of ideas in organic and sustainable vegetable production

Cross pollination is important in sustainable and organic agriculture. Especially when it comes to knowledge. That’s why seven students and professors from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica participated came to Wisconsin for an intensive workshop focusing on organic and sustainable vegetable production last month. It’s also why a reciprocal workshop is being organized for spring break 2010 involving students enrolled in LACIS440/Hort 372, Organic Agriculture in the Tropics. They’ll travel to Costa Rica to visit and gain hands-on experience in organic and sustainable fruit and vegetable production farms in Costa Rica.

Last month’s workshop for the Costa Rican visitors was presented in Spanish(Producción y mercadeo de hortalizas orgánicas en climas templadas). The participants visited the Chicago and Olbrich botanic gardens, Wollersheim Winery as well as gaining hands-on experience while visiting several organic vegetable farms in southern Wisconsin, including Vermont Valley Community Farm (Blue Mounds), TiPi Produce (Evansville) and Harmony Valley Farms (Viroqua). The participants also enjoyed the sights and sounds of urban culture and horticulture at the Dane County Farmers Market and another in downtown Chicago. An ‘International garden’ of 28 different vegetables was planted at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station, and also on the campus of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica to allow students to compare and contrast the similarities and differences of the growth and developement of different vegetables in contrasting temperate and tropical environments.

The workshop was organized by Jim Nienhuis, Dept of Horticulture and Alberto Vargas, Dept. of Latin America, Caribbean and Iberian Studies.