Go green. How? A new Saturday organic farmer’s market, the Feria Verde de Aranjuez, is your answer. Options for living an eco-friendly existence are at your disposal at this “new heart in the city” in eastern San José’s Barrio Aranjuez.
What does it take to go green? It means an individual commitment to eating food grown locally and organically. It means reducing your burning of fossil fuels, biking and walking instead of driving. It means reducing your consumption overall, especially your use of plastics. And, when you do use plastic bottles or bags, aluminum, glass, Tetra Brik, cardboard or paper, it means reusing and/or recycling it. Next, you go the extra mile to use cloth diapers instead of disposable, you try to buy clothes made of natural fabrics made locally, and you use cleaning products that are biodegradable and nontoxic to the earth and water supply.
It takes a commitment, but at the Feria Verde, all of these environmental options are made easily available. The fair, inaugurated May 15, is organized by the nonprofit Asociación Amantes de lo Orgánico (AAMOR) and Grupo Armonía.
Upon your arrival, cloth bags of different kinds are available for purchase – a key element to buying your goods at any feria. Collection bins made out of recycled Tetra Brik are set out for you to deposit all your recyclables, including Tetra Brik.
At this early stage of the fair’s growth, some 21 vendors offer a variety of eco-wares under stands made with bamboo posts. But organizer Rolf Ruge of AAMOR believes the fair will grow to have approximately 50 vendors. Ruge says the mission of this green fair is “to create a sacred space for organic producers and consumers to meet.”
And meet, they do. Producers travel from all parts of the country, from Guápiles and Cartago, east of the capital, to Puriscal and Orotina to the west, to sell their organic produce here. This means in-season produce grown without pesticides. The variety of fruits and vegetables is select – this is not the kind of fair where you can buy in bulk quantities. The prices are a bit higher than at traditional Costa Rican farmer’s markets, but, as with most organic produce, consumers are willing to pay a bit more for the quality product, and to support local, small farmers.
In addition to produce, cheeses, honey and breads, all made locally and organically, are for sale here. You can also find imported items such as olive oil and wine from Greece and Italy. Delicious samples are abundant and make for a lively and friendly atmosphere. Most vendors are anxious to share details about the production process and quality of their goods.
One of the most popular vendors is the Liquibici, run by Alejandro Gámiz. You choose the fruit you want, such as papaya, mango, banana or strawberries, for a blended fruit drink. Then, he adds ice, coconut water, pollen, maca (a natural protein supplement also available for purchase at the fair) and organic honey. When the blender is full, Gámiz hops onto a stationary bicycle, places the blender behind the bicycle seat and begins to pedal, thus powering the blending, until a cold, fruity, nutritious treat is served up in a glass, for ¢1,000 (about $1.90).
The fair is an artistic, social gathering as well, with a vibrant sense of community building and opportunities to meet ecominded people. An artistic vibe is present with jewelry and clothes for sale. Artists Jessica Portuguez and Rafael Pertuzio offer musical instruments made from bamboo and unique hot-air-balloon mobiles for children, made from pumpkin shells, as well as handcrafted jewelry, with no two pairs of earrings alike. Their project of “growing plants for art craft” is yet another innovative facet of the organic movement.
The Feria Verde de Aranjuez is held every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Polideportivo de Aranjuez, 400 meters west of Colegio México (feriaverdearanjuez.blogspot.com). Bring your recycling, your cloth bags and your appetite to join in and feel the green pulse of this “new heart in the city.”