CEM logoMission Statement: The Centro Ejidal Margaritas (CEM) is an initiative to improve local life conditions at Las Margaritas, consolidating the ejidal organization, through the construction of a neutral space of dialogue and exchange of knowledge, wisdom, new initiatives, ideas, products, etc.

The Ejido Las Margaritas is located in the Potosinian Plateau, in Wirikuta, a protected area in a natural sacred site. This region is part (0.22%) of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the 3 most important deserts worldwide in terms of biodiversity, and the most important in North America:

  • 30% of the cacti species of the world grow on it.
  • It shelters about half the species of desert flora, being the most important concentration center for endangered and endemic cacti.
  • It concentrates 70% of the bird species and 60% of the mammal species in the ecoregional complex.

Wirikuta is considered by the wixárika or huichol people (an indigenous group) to be the sacred site where the world was created, where the gods live, and to which the pilgrims arrived after 550k of route to renovate the life cycles and to keep the world existing. It is one of the four pillars that hold the Sun, where the night-day and the underworld-heaven dualities conciliate. To understand this is to acknowledge the region as an indivisible ritual territory, where each plant, animal, stone, river, and mountain is a sacred element that communicates with the pilgrims.

Wirikuta is a unique spot in terms of its natural richness and also as a spiritual education site in support of an ancient indigenous culture. Nevertheless, the region has been historically characterized by intense mining, which stopped 20 years ago due to the lack of technology required to continue extractions. Today its main problems include:

  • Water scarcity and modified precipitation regime caused by the tomato agribusiness, which has brought the worst drought in almost 100 years.
  • Erosion caused by a mismanagement of goats.
  • Lack of employment and the consequent migration to the cities nearby and to the United States.
  • Neglect and abandonment of the tangible and intangible heritage of the site: biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

Life Agreement in Wirikuta is the name of a regional project that aims to offer an integral series of alternatives in the fields of environment, local production, permaculture and training; and to make Wirikuta become a Natural Protected Area that stands as an exemplar model of environmental regeneration and social welfare in the municipality and other regions.

  • 14 years of experience participating in communitarian projects make Las Margaritas an ideal place to continue with new initiatives.
  • The last actions taken include family gardens, water storage tanks, production of medicinal ointments, waste collection and separation, goats management, among others.
  • All of them bear in common the revitalization of traditional knowledge, the use of local raw materials, the rational use of resources and collective/volunteer work.

At Las Margaritas, the severity of the conditions makes it impossible to think of a feasible project without adding the efforts of the entire community. The CEM seeks to exist above all as a space of dialogue and consolidation of the cooperative organization that will allow them to plan their future with autonomy and to make informed decisions that consider the characteristics of the region and the results of previous experiences.     

Programs and Activities

The CEM is the first step to generate autonomy and food security and to carry out actions of housing improvement and linking of production abroad. It is a project that seeks to promote the sustainable development of the site and to set a precedent for the region, by offering opportunities of economic development to the inhabitants without endangering the environmental equilibrium. Some of the topics which demand action on site and the corresponding proposed initiatives are:

  • Housing improvement - We visualize this as the next step in the community, it includes rehabilitation of roofs to meet security standards and allow water harvest, building of water storage tanks, dry toilets and saving stoves, and renewal of finishes.
  • Water management - We envision five intiatives: the impermeabilization and shading of two existing water reservoirs (35,000 square meters), the creation of a new main reservoir (300,000 square meters approximately), the restoration and dissociation of the water routes in order to assure a better water harvest and canalization in the rainy season, the implementation of a family scale water management system to reuse grey water, and the implementation of an aquaculture project as alimentary alternative.
  • Communication strategy - Three types of communication need to be enhanced. The passing of the elder's knowledge; the linking of the community abroad through access to internet, which has been proposed by an economy research center but hasn't been implemented due to lack of an internet sponsor; and the strengthening of communication inside the community and the region by means of strategies such as communal blackboards, a communitarian radio station, etc. 
  • Management plan - It includes cattle management, which is very important for the region given the fact that cattle is the main responsible for erosion problems; species propagation, which is needed to assure the preservation of the local ecosystem; and food production covering seasonal cultivation, family gardens, and apiculture.
  • Energy - We aim to implement the best alternative energy source(s), considering the possibility of solar energy, wind power, and biodigestion.
  • Training - In ancestral local knowledge such as traditional medicine and construction techniques and in permacultural techniques and appropriate technologies.

Links to Additional Information

CEM Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Centro-Ejidal-Margaritas/104273329743082
YouTube video about CEM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1GMVDr_Y40
CEM web site http://www.kichink.nb9.mx/stores/lamargarita?view=website
CEM brief (PDF)
CEM mind map (PDF)
CEM newsletter (PDF)

Contact Information

Lara Becerra, Communitary Projects Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Brenda Solano, Communitary Projects Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: + 5255 52110231